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Maui’s Jackson Bunch earns runner-up at SAMBAZON World Junior Championships

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Jackson Bunch of Hawaii surfs in Heat 2 of the Semifinals at the 2023 Sambazon World Junior Championships on Jan. 13, 2024 at San Diego, California. (Photo by Kenny Morris/World Surf League)

Maui’s Jackson Bunch’s (HAW) run in the World Junior Championships culminated with a runner-up finish.

Bunch eliminated Leo Casal of Brazil in the Semifinals Saturday morning with an excellent heat score of 16.63. But, Bunch couldn’t quite carry the momentum from the Semifinals into the Finals heat against Jett Schilling, losing his first heat of the competition, and nearly joined Kai Barger (HAW) as one of Maui’s WSL World Junior Champions.

“The waves have been super fun. Just unlucky with the waves in that last heat,” Bunch told the WSL. “But, I’m super stoked and super grateful for this opportunity. I’m just having fun and I’m along for the ride.” 

The Finalists after the Finals at the 2023 Sambazon World Junior Championships on Jan. 13, 2024 at San Diego, California. (Photo by Kenny Morris/World Surf League)

Sierra Kerr (AUS) and Jett Schilling (USA) won the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Hosted by Best Western and added their name to surfing history as WSL World Junior Champions.


Kerr and Schilling overcame formidable fields to earn the World Junior Titles and claim their spots on the 2024 Challenger Series.

Impressive showings from Zoe Benedetto (USA) and Jackson Bunch (HAW) earned them runner-up finishes after surmounting world-class opponents as they return to their respective Qualifying Series (QS) events in hopes of joining the 2024 Challenger Series contenders. 

Sierra Kerr of Australia and Jett Schilling of the USA after winning the Final at the 2023 Sambazon World Junior Championships on Jan. 13, 2024 at San Diego, California. (Photo by Kenny Morris/World Surf League)

Schilling Delivers Southern California First World Junior Title Since 2018 
The men’s Final featured Southern California’s own Jett Schilling and Maui’s Jackson Bunch.

The WSL reports Schilling wasted no time getting busy, posting a 6.33 on his first wave before finding a gem that allowed him to unleash his quick, powerful backhand for an excellent 8.33.


Bunch was able to respond, posting a 6.00, but Schilling was relentless and posted a 7.17 to apply pressure to Bunch before besting that with a 7.90 and become a WSL World Junior Champion. 
“It was so special, I couldn’t believe it,” said Schilling. “I just want to thank God and my family first and thank them for everything they’ve done for me This is really special for me, all my friends are here, it’s just surreal. Thank you to everyone. I have to work even harder for this year and just keep going until I get on the CT with all my friends.”
One of San Clemente’s rising talents, Schilling now returns to the Challenger Series in hopes of qualifying for the Championship Tour for 2025 alongside his fellow California contingent.

SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Women’s Final Results:
1 – Sierra Kerr (AUS) 16.83
2 – Zoe Benedetto (USA) 11.50

SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Men’s Final Results:
1 – Jett Schilling (USA) 16.23
2 – Jackson Bunch (HAW) 13.37

SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Women’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Zoe Benedetto (USA) 10.17 DEF. Sol Aguirre (PER) 9.77
HEAT 2: Sierra Kerr (AUS) 16.17 DEF. Talia Swindal (USA) 12.26


SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Men’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Jett Schilling (USA) 14.00 DEF. Levi Slawson (USA) 4.50
HEAT 2: Jackson Bunch (HAW) 16.63 DEF. Leo Casal (BRA) 13.33

The 2023 SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Hosted by Best Western are supported by SAMBAZON, Best Western, Cup Noodles, Visit Oceanside, Original Sprout, Sun Diego, Boxed Water, Board and Brew, and Tractor Beverage Co. 

For more information, please visit


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