Right now, the world's best junior surfers are competing as part of the 2018 Vissla ISA World Junior Surfing Championship (watch HERE) – and 15-year-old under 16 junior champ Alyssa Spencer, is prepping to launch her campaign for her next title on her home turf.
This year, the competition will throw down at Huntington Beach – dozens of countries, hundreds of youngsters looking to make their mark under the iconic pier in California, around an hour's drive from where Alyssa grew up in Carlsbad.
Alyssa's a rising star in the world of grom-dom, a ripper with a head well above her years. We checked in with Alyssa just as the world junior games are kicking off to talk competition pressure, long-term goals, growing up in California and much more, dive in.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where did learn to surf?
My dad is a surfer so I grew up always going to the beach and watching him. He taught me how to surf when I was about six-years-old and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I grew up in Carlsbad surfing with a crew of boys so they’ve definitely pushed me so much. I would always want to beat them in contest and be better than them. I’ve always loved competitive surfing and most of all I just love being in the ocean.
Do you think growing up in Cali has helped your surfing career?
Living on the coast of California has definitely helped my surfing career. There’s such a variety of different waves to surf so it’s helped me learn how to surf in every kind of conditions and so many types of waves.
The ISA juniors have just begun, and you’re heading in as a defending champ, do you feel any pressure?
I’m actually way more excited than nervous or feeling pressured. I’m just looking forward to surfing against all the girls from the other countries to see how much we have progressed. It’s always so cool to see all the girls surfing so good because it pushes all of us.
That’s such an incredible title to hold, what’s your game plan? Feeling as if you’ve the home advantage?
It is so amazing to have this event so close to home. I think our whole team has a home court advantage but all the other teams surf so well too.
It will be so exciting to see how it’s all plays out this year! I believe Team USA can go for Gold again and I’m going to try my hardest to finish with a Gold as well! I can’t wait!
Is there anyone you don’t like competing against?
No everyone of the girls are amazing. I love competing against all the girls because they are all so talented and push me so much.
What’s the overall goal for Alyssa, would you like to go for the CT or act as more of a freesurfer?
My overall goal is to make the CT and one day be a World Champion. I’m going to work as hard as I can to get there and give it all it got. It’s just the beginning and I’m so excited for what’s to come.
Do you think Instagram and social media work well for younger surfers in terms of exposure?
Social media is so great for exposure. It’s so cool to be able to share everything you do with everyone in the world. It has definitely helped me grow my profile and I think it has helped many other young athletes grow theirs as well. It’s a great tool to have in the industry today.
How do you balance surfing and school?
I always try to work ahead in school before I leave for surf trips so I don’t have to worry about it on trips. It gets hard with getting caught behind but I always figure out how to get caught up.
I work really hard on schoolwork when I’m home so I have all the free time to take in every part of surf trips and competitions. It gets challenging but I actually enjoy learning new things so school is something fun for me.
What type of waves do you like surfing?
My favourite wave is Uluwatu, Bali because it’s a left and I’m goofy foot so it’s a paradise for me. The wave has turn sections and barrel sections. It’s so amazing! And it’s in warm water which makes it even better!
What is the best thing about surfing?
My favourite part of surfing is being in the ocean. I feel in love with just having the feeling of being free of any worries and being able to do what i love in the most beautiful places. Surfing has also given me the opportunity to travel the world which has been amazing. I have been able to experience and see beautiful places around the world and I’m so grateful.
What boards are you riding?
I ride CI Surfboards. I’m currently riding the Fever model as my magic short board and I love it!
Have you thought about the Olympics? Would you like to compete?
I’d love to compete in the Olympics one day. It would be such an honour to represent my country. It would be a dream come true.
You can watch the 2018 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship by going HERE.