Taj's Small Fries
Solomon Pogue-Englert among the top performers
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 January, 2018 - Yallingup - Sunny skies and crystal clean conditions greeted surfers from right across Australia as competition commenced at the 13th Taj’s Small Fries in Yallingup, Western Australia.
Shallows, which is located quite literally in Taj Burrow’s front yard, served up perfect grommet waves, with punchy 1-2 feet peaks providing ample opportunity for competitors who battled it out in non-elimination round one heats first up this morning.
WA’s biggest junior surfing event was highlighted by standout performances including that of Maddie Cawood (Margaret River, WA) who dominated in the 16 & Under Girls division. Cawood looked in great touch, scoring an impressive 8.25 (from a possible 10) on her way to a strong opening round victory.
“It was really fun and there was a lot of good waves coming through,” said Cawood. “I just got home from competing on the East Coast and I’m feeling really confident in my surfing at the moment.”
Coffs Harbour’s Rosie Smart made a memorable start to her maiden Taj’s Small Fries event, with success in the 14 & Under Girls division. Smart dropped a 7.50 (from a possible 10) and surfed with maturity beyond her years, using a strong flowing top turns to march into round two in empathic fashion.
“I used to live in Perth, but moved to NSW a while ago and this is my first time surfing here at the Small Fries,” said Smart. “I’m stoked to have won my heat and it’s been such a great morning of surf.”
Lawson Thomas (Willagee, WA) lit up the 12 & Under Boys division with some high speed on rail surfing that got the strong on beach crowd cheering him on. Thomas scored an 8.75 (from a possible 10) on his best wave and was frothing with his performance post heat.
“I’m from Perth and we don’t get many waves like this over summer," said Thomas. “I was just so excited to get out there and that first wave came straight to me and I went to town on it!”
Izaak Brown (Central Coast, NSW) was another to blitz their heat, dropping the highest round one score, with a near perfect 9.50 (from a possible 10) for a serious of vertical backhand snaps.
“This is my first time to WA and I’m here with my brothers who are also competing,” said Brown. “The waves are so fun out there and the water was so clean and clear it was amazing.”
WA’s most successful surfer and event host Taj Burrow was on hand to watch and commentate some of today heats.
“Each year the standard just keeps getting better and better,” said Burrow. “It’s such a dreamy day down here and the conditions are perfect for the groms, they’re going made out there.”
The afternoon saw the events top seeds hit the water for the first time in the 14 & Under Boys and 16 & Under Boys divisions.
Solomon Pogue-Englert (Gracetown, WA) proved he’s a star on the rise, posting a 17.00 (from a possible 20) combined heat total, which included a 9.5 and a 7.5. Burying the rail and smashing anything that came his way Pogue-Englert looked unstoppable.
“It’s always good to win your first heat at a big event like this,” said Pogue-Englert. “I’m stoked that the waves are so good and I’m pumped to be here competing in the first event of the year.”
Danny Benedetti (Margaret River, WA), Brock Launders (Margaret River, WA), Koda Killorn (Maroubra, NSW), Ashley Spencer (Dunsborough, WA) and Jake Hagan (Geraldton, WA) all dominated their heats to move further into a stacked 14 & Under Boys draw.
Despite an afternoon sea breeze that made the going tough, the blue ribbon 16 & Under Boys division milked everything out of the ocean with some great surfing on display to close out day one proceedings.
Winners include defending event champion, Finn Cox (Margaret River, WA), as well as Ethan Stocks (Coffs Harbour, NSW), Jed Gradisen (Gracetown, WA), Jay Occhilupo (Gold Coast, QLD), Grayson Hinrichs (Bondi, NSW) and Seth Van Haeften (Margaret River, WA).
Surf conditions are expected to be similar tomorrow with competition commencing from 7:30am tomorrow.
Taj’s Small Fries is the second stop on Billabong’s Bloodlines Series, which alongside Parko’s Grom Stomp (Sunshine Coast, QLD), The Oz Grom Cup (Coffs Harbour, NSW) and Occy’s Grom Comp (Gold Coast, QLD), provide a one of a kind experience for Australia's next crop of emerging surfers and future World Champions.
As well as three days of red-hot surfing action, there will be no shortage of fun and interactive opportunities for competitors and families to enjoy throughout the event. Surf fans will get the chance to rub shoulders with Taj at the opening ceremony next Thursday, the first ever Small Fries launch party on Friday, the Small Fries movie night on Saturday and the presentations and closing ceremony on Sunday.
Taj will also hand pick one lucky Small Fry to attend the Surfing World Grom Bash, which is a money can't buy surfing experience and editorial feature reserved for the best and most outstanding performer.