Juniors ride high
Local gun junior surfers Willow Hardy and Sol Englert beat fierce competition in epic waves at Saturday’s 23rd Gracetown Grommets.
Also charging on to the winners’ podium were Hardy’s little sister Olive, Zali Hewson, Macklin Flynn, and Sol’s brother Sid in their respective age groups.
The annual mainstay on Margaret River’s surfing calendar, co-ordinated by the Cowaramup Bay Boardriders Club, was a fitting tribute to the 1996 Gracetown cliff collapse in which nine people died during a school surfing contest.
The club noted it as “not only a quiet reflection on past events, but also one that celebrates the continuing passion for junior surfing in our region”.
Saturday offered stellar conditions, with solid 4m swells and variable winds against which the State’s best junior surfers showed off skill and flair. Locals Rye Dempsey and Sol Pol Englert showed early form in the under-16s, as did Yallingup surfer Ash Spencer.
Defending under-16 girls champion Maddie Cawood could not find the waves and was eliminated early, opening the door for other competitors to claim her crown.
Willow Hardy and Lilli Cox surfed well through their heats to advance.
Dynamic surfing by Macklin Flynn and consistency from Jack Mickle saw them through to the second round in the 14 boys.
Hewson progressed in the under-14 girls as expected, as did Mia Scott and Mischa Edwards.
Some of the day’s best surfing came from the under-12 boys, with several standout performances in the first round.
Sid Englert and Oke Frazer surfed well, but Jack Lacey showed the way with speed and flow seamlessly connecting each of his sections.
Willow Hines and Olive Hardy, with Leila Frazer, showed courage in the 12 girls in double overhead waves.
Sid Englert continued his progressive surfing, consistently hitting the lip on his forehand, making some critical drops to claim victory over Frazer, Lacey and Maverick Wilson.
The under-12 girls stood tall, giving the crowd great entertainment.
Olive Hardy made it a complete family domination by taking the win and showing all her older sister was not the only one to watch.
Hines surfed well for second, followed by Mia Jacobs and Leila Fraser.
Once again, the 14s showed a tightly contested division from the girls and boys. An in-form Flynn grabbed the win with excellent surfing from Mickle, Otis North, and Ryder Vernon.
For the under-14 girls, Hewsonscored another impressive win against her good friends and fierce rivals Willow Hardy, Scott, and Cox.
The under-16 girls pushed themselves, producing some outstanding surfing, with all girls catching a few towering waves from out the back to put on an excellent display.
Willow Hardy rose to the challenge, and took out the win ahead of Hewson, Skyla Tothill, and Cox.
By the time the final for the 16 boys rolled around, the ocean responded by producing some of the biggest sets of the day.
In the end it was the local knowledge and experience from Sol Englert that saw him win ahead of Jahnu Packer, Ry Dempsey and Ash Spencer.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails