Taj's Small Fries
Surfing Western Australia
Yallingup Beach, Western Australia
17 - 19 January 2014
Offshore wind and a solid groundswell greet the groms
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 17 January, 2014 - The ninth edition of Taj’s Small Fries kicked off today with Yallingup’s iconic main break delivering perfect 4-5ft conditions for the 110+ competitors. Light offshore winds and a solid WSW groundswell provided the best junior surfers from around the country and overseas with plenty of opportunities to put on a show, and there were plenty of big scores and standout performances on day one.
Strong performances in the blue ribbon boys 16 & under division – which boasts an honour roll of past winners that includes modern standouts, Matt Banting (NSW), Dean Bowen (NSW) and Soli Bailey (NSW) – were today dominated by Reef Heazlewood (QLD), Moses Le Grice (WA) and Margaret River’s Shaun Manners.
“There’s a bit of luck needed out there because the peak shifts,” said U16 state champion and eight-time event participant Manners.
“When you get a wave at Yalls it really offers you the opportunity to do some huge turns. Small Fries is such a good event, and it’s grown so much. I’d love to win but there’s so many up and coming groms in the contest that it’s going to take some strong surfing to just make it to the finals.” He said.
On the girls’ side of the draw Yallingup local Phoebe McGregor, Mia McCarthy (Margaret River), Bailee Hastie (Margaret River) and Emi Campbell (Denmark) were surfers who stood out in the big surf.
Campbell, the current U16 national champion looked particularly strong, unleashing an arsenal of powerful forehand manoeuvres. “I was pretty excited when I saw the surf this morning,” said Campbell. “We always get good waves for Taj’s event, and they’re great today, awesome for competition.”
It turns out Taj Burrow isn’t the only Yallingup surfer supporting local talent, with former women’s WCT competitor Claire Bevilacqua in Campbell’s corner.
“I’ve been working with Claire for about a year now. She really encourages me to be aggressive with my turns and I think it’s making a difference. I really want to step it up and I feel like I’ve improved a lot over the last year so a win here would be huge.”
The boys 14 & under divisions shone as conditions turned on during their first round, with Jolan Bonelli (Margaret River), Luke Glover (QLD), Fletcher Llanwarne (Sorrentto), and last year’s 12 & under winner, Bali’s Kian Martin showing they’ll be forces to be reckoned with as we move deeper into the contest.
Martin, has returned to Yallingup with hopes to defend his 12's title and compete in the 14 boys division for the first time, admitted to finding the water colder and more dolphin-filled than his native Bali, but showed no trouble adjusting.
Competitors are asked to meet at Yallingup again tomorrow morning, with competition commencing at 7.20am with round two of the 14 boys.
The swell is forecast to drop overnight which could result in competition moving up the beach to Shallows, which according to Burrow has, “the best sandbanks I’ve seen there in years”, so stay tuned for plenty more action.