Juniors fire up

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Finn Cox during his win in the recent under-18 State Championships.
Camera IconFinn Cox during his win in the recent under-18 State Championships.

The 23rd Gracetown Grommets will fire up at Cowaramup Bay this weekend.

The annual contest held in recognition of the tragic 1996 Gracetown cliff collapse in which nine people died during a school surf competition will see junior boardriders compete for top honours.

Although it’s a low-key event, the Cowaramup Bay Boardriders Club just happens to boast some of WA’s best junior surfers, guaranteeing an epic contest with friends taking on each other for bragging rights.

Last year’s event was taken out by Maddie Cawood in the under-16 girls, while Finn Cox won the boy’s competition.

The annual contest is arguably the most prestigious junior surfing competition in the State, and a stepping stone for juniors headed into international competitions.

Many well-known local surfers cut their competitive teeth in this well-run event. Creed McTaggart, Jacob Willcox and Jack Robinson are some of the names engraved on the coveted under-16 boys’ trophy.

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Excitement is building for the first heat, and as the action commences all eyes will be on several local rippers.

In the 12s division, Sid Englert and Okie Fraser in the boys, and Willow Hines and Olive Hardy in the girls are the juniors to watch.

Cruz Sheridan’s power carves versus the air game of Maklin Flynn will be the highlight of the under-14 boys division.

Zali Hewson will look to go back-to-back in the under-14 girls, but will have to see off the consistent Lilli Cox and the mercurial Willow Hardy.

A quality field in the under-16 boys could see any number of juniors win through, but favouritism sits with Jed Gradisen, especially if the contest in the smoking barrels of North Point.

Defending champion Maddie Cawood looks to continue her good form, but must overcome her teammates. Many of the competitors are coming off a high, yet again winning top surf school at the WA Junior Surfing Titles last week.

This weekend, expert commentary will come from Mal Caithness and Gene Hardy, while catering would be provided all day by the host club.

Contest director Sol McKenzie said the conditions for the contest were looking excellent, which will probably set up at Huzzas.

“We have a good list of entries from local and other WA surfers, so we should see a high standard of surfing in all divisions,” he said.

“As seen in the past events, we hope to continue on the great surf culture the area holds in memory of those lost in the Gracetown tragedy.”

Maddie Cawood said she was excited for her last chance to surf in the junior competition.

“It’s such a special event because of the remembrance of the tragic day that happened all those years ago,” Cawood said. “I was stoked to win the 16 girls last year and looking forward to hopefully backing it up as it’s my last year competing.”

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