Some of Hawaii's best teen surfers left for Central America Monday to defend their title at the International Surfing Association World Junior Surfing Championship.
"Our team is really good," said Verizon Hawaii Surf Team member Bailey Nagy. "We have like, little bit younger of a team than we always have had. But our younger boys are really good at competing. So I think we're good."
New members, but familiar faces.
"We're super good friends. We like, grew up together in surfing contests and just like, we've known each other forever and ever," said team member Kaulana Apo.
A bond that these defending champions say makes them the front-runners against more than 300 junior surfers from 34 countries.
Team member Tatiana Weston-Webb said, "I really think our shots are good because we have a really strong support system. From our parents to coaches and from our team members, we all are so close to each other so it's pretty easy to get along, like as a family.">
"I know that that new energy is just going to push us older guys and push everyone who's been and the coaches and I think it's just going to be just a really special kind of vibe and we're going to get gold again, just with a different team," added team member Cain Daly.
Gold or not, the team's head coach Rainos Hayes said, they'll return winners.
"The result is almost secondary, you know. The experience and the time that they spend together is something that they'll remember for the rest of their lives," he said. "I hope that they go there and become the ambassadors of aloha that they truly are, spreading good will."
The World Junior Surfing Championships are Saturday through June 16 in Nicaragua.
Last year's win in Panama was the teams' first International Surfing Association world championship since 2005.
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