Brisa Hennessy and Alyssa Spencer Become World Champions at the ISA World Juinors!
And Brisa joins the elite group of surfers who call themselves 2x World Champs.
Over the weekend, Rip Curl elite junior team dominated at the ISA World Juniors, with Brisa Hennessy claiming her second ISA Junior World Champion Title, Alyssa Spencer her first Junior World Title in the U-18, and Leilani McGonagle a solid silver medal.
Held in chest to head-high surf at Okuragahama Beach in Japan, the girls put on a consistent and impressive display of surfing throughout the eight-day marathon event.
We caught up with the two new ISA Junior World Champions to see how it all feels…
Can you girls walk us through the event for you? How'd you feel going into it, how do you feel now?
Brisa: I felt a little pressure going into the event, but overall I was really excited. Representing Hawaii and being a part of such an amazing team and coaches is such an honour. It's my last year and I really wanted to put on a good performance.
I lost in the third round, which meant I went to the losers bracket – but after getting through that, the win felt that much sweeter. I was challenged every step of the way and I knew how hard I had worked, and how hard my team had worked.
Alyssa: Going into the event, my goal was to make the finals. I just wanted to stay focused on my goal, as well as supporting the rest of my teammates to reach their goals.
I knew going into the event that all of the other girls wanted to win that gold medal too, and I was going to have to give it my all and work really hard for it. To walk away with the win and to be The World Champion is a dream come true for me.
How does this stack up for you, in terms of accomplishments in your surfing career?
Brisa: I feel an extra sense of accomplishment winning in the ISA. You are not only winning for yourself, but for your team and where you come from.
Alyssa: Winning ISA World Junior Gold is my best and most special accomplishment. I am still over the moon. I can't believe I actually did it!
How does it feel to win alongside your Rip Curl teammate?
Brisa: It was so awesome getting to watch Alyssa absolutely dominate, and seeing her get carried up the beach with the biggest smile was the best. She's a like a little sister to me, and to see her accomplish this feat got me even more motivated for my final!
Alyssa: It was so amazing to watch Brisa win the gold in the U18 division. I am so inspired by her and how hard she works for her goals. It helps push me and makes me a better surfer.
How do the ISA World Juniors differ to other events? What makes it special, and how does that change your game plan in the water?
Brisa: The ISA World Juniors is different and amazing in so many ways. It brings countries together and you get to see and meet the talent from around the world. 40 countries participated this year. It is crazy and beautiful to see countries that you never even thought had waves to be so stoked on surfing, and so united.
Alyssa: ISA is one of my favourite events. It really opens my eyes to how many good surfers there are from around the world. I love being able to represent my country, and to be apart of such an amazing team. It is so special.
How do you feel about competing overall? Do you feel like you're finding a groove and really picking up momentum?
Brisa: It's been a pretty different year for me, moving on from the amateur ranks to the QS. Every heat and every break and competition in the QS is so different. Staying open and learning something each time is so key.
It's been hard mentally, and getting this win in my last JR event is a real confidence booster – hopefully it means I can find my groove on the QS, too!
Alyssa: I love competing. It is fun to work hard for something, and to have goals and dreams and accomplish them. I feel like this contest really boosted my confidence, but I am going to have to keep working hard and stay determined if I want to continue at the same level in results.
And... celebration! How do you celebrate a win in Japan!?
Brisa: Well we tried to sneak out, but we got caught, haha. How does one celebrate in Japan? Eating as much sushi as possible! Duh!
Alyssa: When I got home from Japan my parents invited a bunch of friends over to surprise me with a party, and it was so fun!
Rip Curl is extremely proud of these girls, as they wrap up their Junior careers and have their eyes set on WSL Championship Tour qualification in the coming years.
Brisa Hennessy and Alyssa Spencer Become World Champions