Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


Oceanside hosts World Surf League Junior Championships for the first time

The World Surf League (WSL) Junior Championships are being held this week in Oceanside for the first time ever, and Thursday's surfers saw the full force of Mother Nature.

King tides meant a high surf advisory for county beaches through 6 p.m. Thursday. Those, combined with high winds, meant some delays for Thursday's competition. It started hours later than originally planned.

Nineteen-year-old Australian competitor Marlon Harrison said he and a group of friends paddled 200 to 300 meters out into the water in chaotic conditions ahead of the official event.


“We just got to the pier and that 10 second little period between waves, it was like, ‘Through the pier! Out the back!’ Oh God, it was so scary! There's a lot of barnacles on that pier, so I do not want to get washed up against it,” he said.

Spectators look at the WSL Junior Championship setup from on top of the Oceanside Pier, Jan. 11, 2024.
Jacob Aere
Spectators look at the WSL Junior Championship setup from on top of the Oceanside Pier, Jan. 11, 2024.

WSL North America Tour Manager Brian Robbins said the winter weather and Oceanside Pier setting add to the high-energy event.

“The venue is just great. The pier sort of creates a stadium-like atmosphere. We've got parking, we've got a big beach, there’s got a community here. So there's infrastructure here to not only create a crowd scene, but like a bit of dynamics with the surfers,” Robbins said.

The event brings together the best junior surfers 20-years-old and younger from around the world.

As of Thursday morning, just 16 women and 16 men were left, including 16-year-old Sierra Kerr.


Her heat got delayed due to Thursday's weather, but Kerr's hopes are still high for bringing home a title over the next few days.

This competition has extra meaning for her — she splits time between Australia's Gold Coast and Carlsbad, in North San Diego County.

“It's cool because my friends can come watch — and my family — they're all here supporting, so it's super good to have that local (connection),” Kerr said about the Oceanside competition.

Tyler Garcia is the Vice President of Business and Brand Development for Visit Oceanside.

He said events like the World Surf League Junior Championships reinforce that Oceanside is a surfing mecca — which benefits the local tourism industry in both the short and long term.

“We're home to the U.S. Adaptive Surf Championships, we're also home to the Super Girl Surf Pro, and USA Surfing does their championships here as well for some of their events. So, a really cool repertoire of events and this just fits in naturally,” Garcia said.

He and Robbins both want to bring the WSL Junior Championships event back to Oceanside next year.

For this year’s competition, surfers will continue to battle it out each day through the weekend with a more standard schedule, and the public is welcome to watch.

The North County Focus newsletter is your bi-weekly guide to all the news coming from North County, plus a handpicked selection of events and trivia tidbits.