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ISA World Junior Champs debrief with Leia Millar

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How were you feeling on the trip over?
I was feeling pretty nervous but super excited to get there as I had been looking forward to it for so long.  

Image: Jersson Barboza

Knowing the whole New Zealand Surfing community was behind you did you feel any expectation or were you just going to go hard and give it your best shot?
It was a really good feeling knowing the NZ Surfing community was behind us, it gave me confidence to go hard and put forward my best effort. There was in the back of my mind a slight bit of pressure at the beginning of the comp but that disappeared as the week went on. 

Was the skill level of other competitors up to your expectation?
Yes, the level of other competitors was pretty cool. During the first few surfs in El Salvador, there were so many competitors that were ripping and catching waves around me but once the comp started, I could see that it was possible to beat some of them. 

How did you feel about your own surfing during the event?
I felt really good about my surfing during the comp, I loved the boards I was on, and it was nice to mostly surf point breaks on my forehand. 

Overall, how what did you think about your surfing experience in El Salvador?
My overall surfing experience was so fun. I loved the warm water so much and it was good to just wear togs. It was also super fun surfing the pumping right hand point breaks and travelling to Punta Roca where the WSL is going to be.

What was it like representing New Zealand and having the team with you for support?
It was the best opportunity and so special to be representing New Zealand and travelling with a team. Our team would always be there to support everyone for their heats, and it would give you heaps of confidence going into your heat knowing that the team is behind you. 

The commentators and media noticed the Kiwis team comradery, what was your favourite part of having all the kiwis there supporting you, did it help?
My favourite part about having a good bunch of kiwis there supporting was that while you were out in your heat you could hear them cheering you on from the beach and you’d gain confidence from all the support. It was really special the amount of strength in the support of our team. 

During and before competition it was obviously all focus, but did you get to see anymore of El Salvador or do any touristy things?
Before the competition was just as fun as during the comp because we would drive to these other right hand point breaks and surf uncrowded pumping waves. We would also go around the local surf city town before and during the comp, going to restaurants and looking at all the stalls and touristy things around town. 

Image: Mike Rodriguez

What was your favourite part of the whole trip?
My favourite part of the whole trip was surfing really good right hand points in super warm water. 

How was it living in Surf city?
Living in Surf City was definitely different to normal life in NZ, especially with the extra hot weather. Surf city was very alive with people, and you would see how the local people of El Salvador live. Our accommodation was awesome and looked after us really well.

How was the food in El Salvador?
The food in El Salvador was really good, the people at our accommodation would provide amazing meals everyday along with drinks made with local ingredients/fruits. They would make us a variety of stuff including traditional meals and Mexican food. We also would go out for dinner some nights at the local restaurants. 

What was the culture like?
The Culture in El Salvador was really alive, and it was cool to experience the food, music and lifestyle. 

If you got offered a surf holiday to El Salvador would you go back?
Yes! I would love to go back. 

Image: Jersson Barboza

If someone was looking to head to El Salvador for a surfing holiday what is one piece of advice you would offer them?
I would say to explore all the different surf breaks and make the most of the warm weather and try to experience the local towns and lifestyles as much as you can. 

What’s the first thing you did when you got home?
The first thing I did when I got home was get warm and relax. 

What is your plan for surfing now, where to next?
My plan for surfing now is to hopefully go to some Aussie comps this year and keep surfing lots. 

Anyone you would like to give a shoutout too?
I’d like to thank the whole NZ junior surf team and especially Matty, Khan and Michelle for making it an awesome trip for everyone. I also want to thank all the people who helped me get to El Salvador to compete like my Family and friends, my sponsors, Oneill, primal, skinnies, goodness gracious cafe and Noxen. I’d also like to give a massive thank you to the Piha Community for helping Liv and I get there.


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