Costa Rica's Malakai Martinez was among the top performers on the opening day of the World Junior Surfing Championships in Huntington Beach ©ISA/Sean Evans

Japan's Riaru Ito was the stand-out performer as action began today at the World Junior Surfing Championships in Huntington Beach in the United States.

Competing in the boys' under-16 event, Ito earned the highest heat total of the day with 13.93 points at Huntington Beach Pier.

Hawaii's Sage Tutterow, Costa Rica's Malakai Martinez and the US' Levi Slawson also put on strong performances to give their teams an early boost of momentum.

Tutterow and Slawson are both competing in the boys' under-16 event and manged scores of 13 and 12.23 points respectively.

Martinez, meanwhile, achieved 12.76 points in the boys' under-18 competition.

Today's action was preceded by the Opening Ceremony, which saw a record-breaking 361 athletes and 136 team officials from 44 countries inaugurate the event with the International Surfing Association's (ISA) parade of nations and Sands of the World Ceremony.

Dignitaries in attendance included Paul Naude, President of the event's title sponsor VISSLA.

He was joined by Mike Posey, the Mayor of Huntington Beach, and Kelly Miller, the President and chief executive of Visit Huntington Beach.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre addressed the international delegations at the Ceremony.

"Welcome to the largest VISSLA ISA Juniors in history," he said.

"I would like to give a big thank you to VISSLA for believing in the power of junior surfing, and as well to the City of Huntington Beach for opening your arms, waves and beach to all of us."

Today's action was preceded by the Opening Ceremony for the event ©ISA/Ben Reed
Today's action was preceded by the Opening Ceremony for the event ©ISA/Ben Reed

Following the parade of nations, the ISA celebrated its signature Sands of the World Ceremony in which two members from each team took to the stage and poured sand from their local beach into a glass container while waving their national flag.

It is claimed this symbolised the peaceful gathering of nations of the world through surfing.

The Sands of the World Ceremony was created by Aguerre in Huntington Beach at the 1996 ISA World Surfing Games.

"Huntington Beach has been a part of ISA history for many years," he added.

"It was here at this Pier in 1996 that we awarded the first individual medals at the World Surfing Games.

"It was also the first surfing event attended by members of the International Olympic Committee, which planted the seed for surfing's eventual Olympic inclusion 20 years later.

"Some of you may be among the first Olympic surfers in history in two years' time at Tokyo 2020.

"Many Governments have problems with each other, but we, the people, have no problems.

"We can all surf together in peace.

"I want you all to surf hard this week, re-visit friendships, make new friends, and go home as ambassadors of Huntington Beach and California."

The 12 ISA scholarship ambassadors competing in the event also took to the stage to recognise the great strides they had made in their education and surfing since assuming their position. 

To finish off the Ceremony, the delegations were treated to a local display of song and dance by Surf City Singers from Huntington Beach High School.

The first full day of competition is scheduled for tomorrow.