Dinner talk sparks the Gromfest phenomenon
By STEVE SPINKS
LITTLE did three friends realise that an idea hatched over dinner 10 years ago would result in the world's biggest junior surfing competition, the Rusty Gromfest.
Lennox Head trio Max Perrot, Kellie O'Brien and David Sandercock were the original brains trust behind the Gromfest which hit Lennox Head for the 10th year at the weekend.
The first year saw 385 grommets roaming the breaks at Lennox Head.
Now the competition is set at 376 competitors over four days, with 100 surfers on the reserve list.
"Basically it started out over dinner," O'Brien said.
"David oversaw the Australian scholastic team and we all felt that within the sport there were age groups not accounted for at all.
"There were so many children surfing, particularly at Lennox Head, so we thought it was time to set up a stepping stone for the sport."
Fast forward to this year's 10th contest.
Surfing industry scouts scour the line-up trying to work out who will be the next big name in the sport.
A host of WCT competitors, including Mick Fanning, Bede Dur- bidge, Chelsea Georgeson, Stephanie Gilmore and Laurina McGrath, have all been past winners or finalists.
Fanning, the 1997 Under-16 boys champion, won the WCT event at Reunion Island last Friday.
"All the people (junior competitors) who will be at the Australian Titles are here," O'Brien said.
"The depth of surfing in the competition is pretty amazing."
The contest is even starting to garner an international profile.
Grommets from New Zealand, Samoa, the USA and Peru have been strutting their stuff over the weekend.
The international competitors don't come for a holiday, they come to test themselves against the best.
For the uninitiated, a grommet is a young surfer aged between 10 and 16.
According to the dictionary, grommets are prone to surfing for up to eight hours straight, with the typical grommet usually found dwelling in Australian coastal habitats in increasingly large numbers.
They generally feed on a basic diet of meat pies, hollow beach breaks, chips and fizzy drinks.
If you find a lost or confused grommet over the next few days, kindly direct them to Gromfest or- ganisers.