Locals advance in perfect surf
MORE THAN 300 of Australia and the world's best 16 and under male and female surfers were super stoked over the weekend with perfect 1 to 1.5m surf at the start of the Rusty Gromfest.
The famous North Wall break at Ballina was an ideal venue for both days with dual banks serving up fantastic clean waves.
The quality of this year's field was highlighted in the opening heat of the 16 Boys with local favourite Garrett Parkes (Byron Bay) tearing into numerous excellent waves to take a huge heat win against talented New Zealand surfer, Matt Hewitt. Parkes recently won the World under 16's surfing title in Portugal where Hewitt placed third and these two are developing a healthy rivalry.
Parkes is building a superb junior record and is a previous winner of the Gromfest.
After his heat win on Saturday Parkes commented on the importance of this title saying, "I'd love to win another Rusty title. It has incredible history with great surfers like Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson winning it and it's just an awesome event. Last year I was sick with an ear infection and didn't do so well but hopefully this year will be better for me. But it's a stacked quality field and no heat is easy."
Parkes posted the day's equal highest single wave score with a 9.5 out of a possible 10 ride.
A number of local surfers from the Byron, Lennox and Ballina region have also been strong including Soli Bailey (Suffolk Park/12 Boys) and Stephanie Single (Lennox Head/12 Girls) who both posted strong heat wins, along with Nikki Hoskin (Lennox Head).
Yesterday, North Wall again served up fantastic conditions for day two of the Rusty Gromfest.
Current world number two- rated 16 and under surfer Laura Enever (Narrabeen) winner of her division in the recent All Girls' Showdown looked like being implicated in the event's first major upset as she trailed in fourth place in her opening round.
Not only was Enever finding it hard to catch the right waves, her opponent in Amy Hubbard (Currumbin/Gold Coast) was racking up some very good scoring rides to open a big lead.
Fortunately for Enever she managed to catch some strong rides toward the end of the heat which moved her from fourth place to second and she advanced behind Hubbard into round two.
South Coast surfer Kirby Wright's heat provided a memorable moment in the 12 year history of Gromfest with a huge pod of dolphins along with a massive flock of sea birds invading the break in a feeding frenzy! Laughing after her win Kirby described the situation saying, "Oh Gosh, that was so freaky out there. I'm not a fan of dolphins anytime and they were everywhere around all of us.
I paddled for a good wave and there were two big dolphins surfing the wave as well, right beside me almost. I stopped paddling and missed the wave!"
Regardless, Kirby ended up posting a big opening round win and following her third placing last year, she's a big chance to win a Rusty title this year.
With two days to run the surfing is certain to lift as these young surfers chase this sought-after title.
The Rusty Gromfest continues today with finals on Tuesday.