Kai Hing, The King! Eighth Annual Taj's Small Fries
Kai Hing (Wurtulla, QLD) is the new King of Taj's Small Fries, with the Sunshine Coaster claiming the blue-ribbon under 16 boys division of the eighth annual event which culminated at Shallows, a reef break located north of professional surf Taj Burrow's homebreak of Yallingup, today in West Australia.
Fifteen year-old Hing easily out-pointed (and out-weighed) his opponents in the 25-minute final, the solid natural-footer making the most of a brisk southerly wind that blew through, by launching into two super-smooth forehand air-reverses.
Hing (15.40pts) defeated defending Taj's Small Fries champ and recently crowned national surfing champion Jacob Willcox (Margaret River, WA) 2nd (13.75pts), Kael Walsh (Yallingup, WA) 3rd (9.70pts) and Reef Heazlewood (Moffat Beach, QLD) 4th on 9.35pts.
'I've been here twice before and haven't done better than a third, so it's super good to come all this way and get first it makes the trip worth it. I missed the last two years, but I had really fun waves. I was always going to come back to West Australia, there is such good waves. I love the place, it's so nice," said Hing.
'I've competed against Jacob (Willcox) a lot and he's beaten me most of the time. He beat me at the Aussie Titles. He got the last wave in the final today and I was watching it from the back, so I was freaking out. He already had a seven (point ride) and it's his home break so he was always going to be confident and he had local support,' added Hing.
Billie Melinz, of Wollongong, NSW, ensured her trip to the west was well worthwhile, with the 13 year-old dominating in two divisions. Melinz won both the U/14 Girls and stepped it up a notch doing the double to take out the U/16s.
'I'm so happy, it's my first trip away on my own and I really wanted to do well,' said Melinz. 'I was nervous too, coming to WA, especially with Bow (Bow Edwards, Billabong Team Manager) taking care of us. I really wanted to do well to impress him and I'm proud of myself for making both finals and doing well in the under 16s versus people who are a lot older than me.'
'It's a good comp to win because it's named after Taj, he's one of my role models. And the area is so nice. Where I come from, we're just used to looking at buildings, but over here it's just miles of coast and beaches, bush and kangaroos and other animals,' added Melinz.
Burrow, who finished the 2012 ASP Men's World Championship Tour rated number six, spent the finals commentating and signing posters for all the Fries and their families and he was on hand at the presentation at nearby Caves House to hand out prizes to each of the division finalists.
'I always loved competing as a kid so I thought it would be great to give the next generation the same opportunity. Billabong has always been my number one sponsor and they were more than happy to get involved and assist with the logistics of the event which just continues to go from strength to strength,' explained Burrow.
'It's always run really smoothly, right from the first year it has been a bumper event. We've always had a lot of smiling faces around, everyone has always enjoyed themselves and this year we're lucky to have the support of the City of Busselton which is awesome.
'The main thing is to just give everyone a chance to have a really fun, enjoyable weekend, and if the groms like competing and they decide they want to go that route and progress into other events then the Small Fries event is a springboard for that,' Burrow said.
2012 was an excellent year for Burrow, who won two events at the sport's elite level. From Monday, the hard work begins again when Burrow's personal trainer, John Gannon, arrives in Yallingup to begin pre-season conditioning with his number one client.
Burrow is defending champion of the first event on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour, the Quiksilver Pro, which is scheduled to begin at Snapper Rocks on Queensland's Gold Coast from March 2nd.
In total, 110 competitors travelled to Yallingup, West Australia, for the premier junior event. This year saw the introduction of a new format that allowed all surfers to compete twice before being eliminated and the first international entrants with Sonny Perrussel and Kian Martin venturing south from Bali, Indonesia to compete.
Martin, just 10 years old, cleaned up in the U/12s division and was a popular winner.
2013 also saw the introduction of the girls U/12 division.
Burrow awarded one of his own boards to young runner-up in the U/16 girls Bailee Hastie for an impressive personal effort. Hastie was leading the final until the dying moments and performed well at the recent national titles in Tasmania.
Full heat draws from all divisions can be found at www.surfingwa.com.au.
Final results listed below.
The 2013 Taj's Small Fries Yallingup is supported by the City of Busselton, Billabong, Von Zipper, DaKine, Surfing Western Australia, Caves House & the Community of Yallingup.
Taj's Small Fries
Yallingup, WA, Jan 11-13th, 2013
1st Kai Hing (Wurtulla, QLD) 15.40pts
2nd Jacob Willcox (Margaret River, WA) 13.75pts
3rd Kael Walsh (Yallingup, WA) 9.70pts
4th Reef Heazlewood (Moffat Beach, QLD) 9.35pts
1st Billie Melinz (Wollongong, NSW) 11.65pts
2nd Bailee Hastie (WA) 10.45pts
3rd Eliza Greene (Dunsborough, WA) 9.15pts
4th Emi Campbell (Denmark, WA) 8.95pts
1st Duke Nagtzaam (Yallingup, WA) 14.40pts
2nd Kael Walsh (Yallingup, WA) 11.65pts
3rd Reef Haezlewood (Moffat Beach, QLD) 10.30pts
4th Josh Cattlin (Trigg, WA) 8.40pts
1st Billie Melinz (Wollongong, NSW) 15.50pts
2nd Mia McCarthy (Karrinyup, WA) 11.10pts
3rd Marnie Durant (Bluff, WA) 8.75pts
4th Phoebe McGregor (Yallingup, WA) 6.20pts
1st Kian Martin (Canggu, Bali) 15.35pts
2nd Dakota Walters (Yamba, NSW) 14.25pts
3rd Karne Blackwell (Wollongong, NSW) 11.40pts
4th Ben Gradisen (Margaret River, WA) 10.00pts
1st April McPherson (Trigg, WA) 15.75pts
2nd Alice Field (WA) 11.35pts
3rd Jamaica Selby Margaret River, WA) 11.00pts
4th India Willcox (Margaret River, WA) 9.10pts