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Taj's Small Fries comp crowns champions in Western Australia

Coral Durant © Surfing WA/Woolacott




The 11th Taj's Small Fries Yallingup 
presented by Flight Centre

Yallingup, Western Australia
15 - 17 January 2016

McPherson, Durant, Cattlin, Gradisen top groms at Taj's Small Fries

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 17 January, 2016 - Yallingup, Western Australia - Six new champions have etched their name into Taj’s Small Fries prestigious honour roll, after an exciting finish to the annual event today in Yalligup, Western Australia.

After two consecutive days of pumping waves at Honeycombs, a strong southerly change brought about a lumpy and bumpy ocean on finals day. The second stop of the Billabong Bloodlines Series presented by Flight Centre concluded literally in Taj Burrow’s front yard, with wind affected random peaks on offer at the ever-reliable back up locations of Shallows.

As the day went on conditions begun to deteriorate, 30 knots of wind and a pulsing ocean meant competitors had to battle hard against the elements to secure their place into the finals.

With Taj and Jack Robinson on the beach to watch and commentate the finals, the groms went all out to impress their surfing idols. “It’s a serious southerly buster out there today,” said Burrow. “The conditions are pretty rough and rugged, but the kids have all been ripping all event and I couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out this year for the event.”

Taj Burrow and April McPherson © Woolacott



The 12 & Under Girls final was the first final to hit the water and the young girls showed no fear when the tackled the rugged ocean swells.

Willow Hardy (Margaret River, WA) showed her strong surfing pedigree  and charged her way to an impressive victory. Swinging into the biggest sets on offer, Hardy scored a 9.00 and 7.00 to finish on 16.00 (from a possible 20).

“It was probably five foot out there, it was scary out there but still fun,” said Hardy. “You can’t be scared, you just need to relax and go with it.”

Hardy edged out Ruby Berry (Margaret River, WA), Zali Hewson (Margaret River, WA) and Lilli Cox (Margaret River, WA), who finished second, third and fourth respectively. The 12 & Under Boys final saw Koda Killorn (Maroubra, NSW) stamp his authority on a division brimming with future talent.

Using a smooth and sharp rail game, Killorn sliced and diced his way to a great win. Killorn scored a 6.50 and 6.25 to finish on a combined total of 12.75 (from a possible 20). Daniel Benedetti (Margaret River, WA), George Simpson (Gracetwon, WA) and Alistair Williams (Gracetown, WA) tried their best but couldn’t stomp the in form Killorn.

“I’d like to thank mum and dad for getting me over here to WA,” said Killorn. “This is my first time to WA and it’s been sick, Taj took us surfing and I’m stoked to have won his event.”

The 14 & Under Boys final was an all star shootout, with four of the best surfers of the event all featured. Jed Gradisen (Gracetown, WA) was on fire, using great wave selection and a powerful backhand attack, scoring a near perfect 9.50 (from a possible 10).


Finishing on a combined total of 16.05 (from a possible 20), Gradisen was too strong for Seth Van Haeften (Margaret River, WA), Finn Cox (Margaret River, WA), and Kian Martin (Bali, IND), with just 0.20 separating second, third and fourth.”

“I’m so stoked right now,” said Gradisen. “It was pretty tough out there and I just managed to jag a couple of good ones.”

The 14 & Under Girls final was a real arm wrestle with all four surfers scoring highly and challenging for the win. Coral Durant (Red Bluff, WA) used a solid array of forehand manoeuvres to post a combined total of 13.50 (from a possible 20).

Durant was able to hold off the best efforts of Emma Cattlin (Yallingup, WA), Pemba Spargo (Albany, WA) and Arabelle Gibson (Margaret River, WA), to take out the biggest result of her career thus far.

“I’m so stoked right now,” said Durant. “This has been the best event ever and this is my biggest win, so I can’t complain.”  

Bali pair Taina Izquierdo and Chinta Hansel took on WA locals April McPherson (Mandurah, WA) and Arabelle Gibson (Margaret River, WA) in the 16 & Under Girls final. McPherson showed her rapid improvement over the past year, surfing with great power and poise to win the blue ribbon girls division. An excellent 8.35 and back up 7.15 left McPherson on a 15.50 two wave combined total (from a possible 20).

“Thanks to all my friends and family here supporting me,” said McPherson. “This is my biggest event win and I’m over the moon.”

Taina Izquierdo found the long running lefts of Shallow’s to her liking finishing second ahead of Chinta Hansel and Arabelle Gibson in third and fourth.

The 16 & Under Boys division finished the event with a bang, as Josh Cattlin (Yallingup, WA), Ben Spence (Margaret River, WA), Cyrus Cox (Margaret River, WA) and Jolan Bonelli (Margaret River, WA) went head-to-head in an enthralling battle of the big boys.

Showing his knowledge of the Shallows line up, Cattlin picked off the best two waves of the final and blew them to pieces with his great away of forehand turns. Cattlin locked in a heat high 8.50 (from a possible 10) and backed it up with a 7.90 to finish on 16.40 (from a possible 20). Cattlin left Margaret River trio of Ben Spence, Cyrus Cox and Jolan Bonelli to fight for the minor positions.

"This is one event I've always wanted to win, but never quite achieved it," said Cattlin. "I'm stoked to put my name on the Small Fries honour roll with all the other great surfers who have won over the years. Caves House hosted the event presentations with a full house on hand to see the winners announced and specialty prizes awarded. 

Ruby Allen (Margaret River, WA), Koda Killorn (Maroubra, NSW), Seth Van Haeften (Margaret River, WA), Arabelle Gibson (Margaret River, WA), Ben Spence (Margaret River, WA), and April McPherson (Mandurah, WA) all pick up brand new custom Mayhem surfboards for their efforts across the event. 

Ben Spence was announced away as the winner of the Future Legends trip thanks to Mentawaii Surf Charters, while Josh Cattlin won the spot on the Surfing World trip later this year.


1ST – Willow Hardy (Margaret River, WA) – 16.00pts
2ND – Ruby Berry (Margaret River, WA) – 9.30pts
3RD – Zali Hewson (Margaret River, WA) – 8.50pts
4TH – Lilli Cox (Margaret River, WA) – 5.55pts

1ST – Koda Killorn (Maroubra, NSW) - 12.75pts
2ND – Daniel Bennedetti (Margaret River, WA) - 12.40pts
3RD – George Simpson (Gracetown, WA) - 9.60pts
4TH – Alistair Williams (Gracetown, WA) - 7.90pts

1ST – Jed Gradisen (Gracetown, WA) – 16.05pts
2ND – Seth Van Haeften (Margaret River, WA) – 14.10pts
3RD – Finn Cox (Margaret River, WA) – 14.05pts
4TH – Kian Martin (Bali, IND) – 13.90pts

1ST – Coral Durant (Red Bluff, WA) – 13.50pts
2ND – Emma Cattlin (Yallingup, WA) – 13.25pts
3RD – Pemba Spargo (Albany, WA) – 13.00pts
4TH – Arabelle Gibson (Margaret River, WA) – 9.55pts

1ST – April McPherson (Mandurah, WA) – 15.50pts
2ND – Taina Izqueirdo (Bali, IND) – 10.01pts
3RD – Chinta Hansel (Bali, IND) – 8.55pts
4TH – Arabelle Gibson (Margaret River, WA) – 7.35pts

1ST – Josh Cattlin (Yallingup, WA) – 16.40pts
2ND – Ben Spence (Margaret River, WA) – 14.50pts
3RD – Cyrus Cox (Margaret River, WA) – 12.85pts
4TH – Jolan Bonelli (Margaret River, WA) – 11.80pts

Taj's Small Fries, Groms, billabong, The City of Busselton, Surfing Western Australia, The Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF), Sunsmart, Von Zipper, Globe, Modom, Mayhem
Justin Majeks

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