Reflects on representing country at international event

Spectacular surfing action, team comradery and a podium finish – South West Academy of Sport athlete Seth Vanhaeften experienced it all when he competed at last year’s ISA World Junior Surfing Championship.

The 16-year-old Margaret River resident was part of the 12-strong Woolworths Australian Junior Surfing Team which finished the recent international tournament in third place, beating Hawaii to take home the team bronze medal.

Held at Huntington Beach in California between October 27 and November 4, the event saw up-and-coming surfers from 44 different countries take to the waves, with Japan and the US taking top honours.

Vanhaeften, who was the only Western Australian represented in the under-16 male category at the event, said it was a “crazy culture shift to go over to another country.”

“Competing there is so much different,” he said.

“There’s so much more team comradery and everyone really battles for their country and it’s a lot more passionate.

“It wasn’t just as much about individual performances as it was for the team and for Australia.”

The Margaret River Senior High School student said clinching the team bronze medal was “insane.”

“Everyone was so supportive of each other, and we all knew what needed to happen for us to get a good position,” he said.

“It was really tight between us and Hawaii but in the end we got it which we were stoked about.

“It was always a bit of a challenge going to a different place that we’d never surfed before but it was good fun.”