Lennox prepares for junior surf showdown
By STEVE SPINKS
WHO is going to stop the Wright family's assault on the 10th annual Rusty Gromfest?
The Culbarra Beach family has had an amazing run with the surfing contest which starts on July 1 at Lennox Head's Seven Mile Beach.
Owen Wright, 15, is gunning for his fifth straight Gromfest title after winning two straight Under-12s and Under-14s divisions.
This year he moves into the Under-16s division and he has already stated he wants to win six titles of Gromfest, similar to Kelly Slater winning six world titles, before he outgrows the Under-16 age limit.
That means he has to claim the Under-16 division this year and next.
Similarly, younger sister Tyler is shooting for her third straight Under-12 Gromfest title.
The 11-year-old is one of the favourites for the event.
Standing in Owen Wright's way is Lennox Head young gun Stuart Kennedy and Suffolk Park's Ellis Ericson.
Ericson finished second in the Under-16 division last year to Coolum's Julian Wilson.
However, with an extra year of competition under his belt, Ericson is expected to pose a major threat to Wright.
Lennox Head's Stuart Kennedy is another serious contender for the Under-16 division.
Kennedy has revved up his competitive surfing lately.
He recently surfed a great final in the Lennox Head-Ballina Boardriders Club competition against World Under-18 Champion James Wood and top Aussie Pro-Junior Adam Melling.
Although he was beaten, Kennedy's form indicated that he should be among the favourites for the Gromfest.
One of Gromfest's organiser, Max Perrot, believes Kennedy's competition surfing has matured remarkably in the last 12 months.
But Kennedy and Ericson will need to be on song if they hope to knock over Wright.
"I'm not saying he's the best surfer, but he's definitely one of the best competitive surfers for his age in Australia and maybe one of the best in the world," Perrot said.
Gromfest starts on July 1 and runs through to July 4 with a spare day available if needed.
The annual surfing competition will have competitors from all over Australia as well as Peru, USA, Samoa, South Africa and New Zealand.