Reef Doig wins 10th annual Billabong Occy's Grom Comp
Bali based surfer, Reef Doig has emerged victorious in the U/16 Boys division of Occy's Grom Comp, the 10th annual edition which concluded today in solid two-metre waves at Duranbah on Queensland's Gold Coast. Doig finished ahead of 80 other hopefuls in the blue-ribbon division of the week-long event, getting the better of local Queensland surfer Ethan Ewing (Stradbroke Is., Qld) in the all-important final.
Doig's task was made that much easier after Ewing suffered a priority interference call in the early stages of the final, an unfortunate error in judgement that cost him one of his two counting waves.
Doig's final total of 9.93 points was enough to give the Aussie transplant the most prestigious result of his young surfing career.
'I'm so happy, I came all this way from Bali and I've learned so much in this event. All the boys were ripping, Ethan was ripping, and yeah, I'm psyched to get first in such a big, international event, it's my best result by far,' said Doig.
'Even with the interference I didn't think I had it, Ethan's such a great surfer and he knows the spot here at Duranbah. At one point I still needed to score a 2.0 pointer and I was struggling. Ethan was staying close, but I ended up getting a small wave and getting the score. So stoked to win,' said Doig.
With the seconds ticking away, Ewing still had a mathematical chance to register the required score with just one ride, so after a day of incredible waves many in the crowd watched in anticipation of a fairytale finish but it wasn't to be.
'Winning was always in the back of mind, but a 9.93 was going to be tough,' said Ewing. I had a couple scores which would have won me the final so it was tough, but that's how it goes.'
Sunshine Coast duo, Isabella Nichols (Coolum, Qld) and Sophie McCulloch (Alexandra Headland, Qld) went head to head in the Under 16 Girls final with Nichols getting the nod over her friend and rival.
'I finished third last year, I got knocked in the semis, so my goal was to make the final this year. With the swell picking up it really got quite tricky so you had to select your waves. It was a hard paddle-out as well. I did one better so I'm stoked,' said Nichols.
'Sophie and I live near each other up on the Sunny Coast. We go surfing together a lot and we surf against each other all the time in local comps, so we have a pretty good rivalry going.'
Billie Melinz (CoalCliff, NSW) did it pretty easy to take a win in the U/14 Girls, registering the highest scoring wave of the final, a 7.83 out of a possible 10, then securing an unassailable lead with a back up score of 4.30 points.
But she did experience a nervous few minutes after her legrope snapped, forcing a swim to shore where she waited anxiously for the clock to tick down with nothing to do but watch her competitors.
'It was hard to find good waves out there, but when they came in they were pretty sweet,' said Melinz. 'It was tough knowing I didn't have enough time to get back out, but it turned out okay in the end.'
'I'm stoked to win Occy's comp, he's such a legend. He's pretty much been the best surfer since forever, so thanks Occy!' added Melinz.
Filling the minor places behind Melinz were India Robinson (Jan Juc, Vic) in second, Ebony Wilson (Palm Beach, Qld) third and local hope Alyssa Lock (Tweed Heads, NSW) fourth.
Sandon Whittaker (Avoca, NSW) did just enough to get the win over Kael Walsh (Yallingup, WA) in the Under 14 Boys. Both surfers caught set waves in the dying moments with Wlash momentarily jumping into first place. Whittaker's final scoring ride of 6.17 secured him the outright win however, giving the young goofy foot the sought-after Occy's Grom Comp win.
The Under 12 Boys put in a huge effort. Some of the grommets looked so small wearing a wetsuit probably doubled their weight, but they negotiated the wild seas with gusto; at times dropping into frothy peaks that towered nearly three times their own height.
Coming up trumps in the wild n' woolly conditions was Mikey McDonagh (Lennox Head, NSW) who triumphed over fellow finalists Keanu Miller (Bulli, NSW), Tane Bowden (Whangamata, NZL) and Caleb Tancred (Avoca, NSW).
Mikey's sister shed a few tears as her brother was chaired up the beach. Then Mikey ran back down and shook the hands of the dejected few he had just beaten. Awesome stuff.
A week jam-packed with 10th year Occy's Grom Comp activities included film premiers, eating competitions, board and fin testing (thanks to JS Industries), an expression session, VonZipper sunglass giveaways and more.
A non-stop one-to-two metre swell thumped relentlessly from the south-east over the five day competition window providing competitors with excellent and often challenging conditions.
'The standard has been extreme,' said event host Mark 'Occy' Occhilupo. 'All the groms have been ripping and the conditions have been epic.'
Occhilupo heads to South Africa on the weekend where he will contest an invite-only competition at J-Bay, the same break after which he named his first-born son Jay.
Billabong Occy's Grom Comp
1st Reef Doig (Bali, IDN)
2nd Ethan Ewing (Stradbroke Is. Qld)
1st Isabelle Nichols (Coolum, Qld)
2nd Sophie McCulloch (Alexandra Headland, Qld)
1st Sandon Whittaker (Avoca, NSW)
2nd Kael Walsh (Yallingup, WA)
1st Billie Melinz (Coalcliff, NSW)
2nd India Robinson (Jan Juc, Vic)
3rd Ebony Wilson (Palm Beach, Qld)
4th Alyssa Lock (Tweed Heads, NSW)
1st Mikey McDonagh (Lennox, NSW)
2nd Keanu Miller (Bulli, NSW)
3rd Tane Bowden (Whangamata, NZL)
4th Caleb Tancred (Avoca, NSW)
Kustom Mini Airstrike
Winner Kalani Ball $1,000 & a trunk load of kicks
Nixon WTA - winner take all (headphones, a speaker and a backpack)
Best Barrel Jack Murray (Lennox Head, NSW)
Most Radical Manoeuvre Monty Tait (Maroubra, NSW)
Highest Heat Total Isabelle Nichols (Coolum, Qld) 18.70 points.
Palmers Best Wave (wax for a year)
Joe Van-dijk (Phillip Is. Vic) 9.8 out of 10.
For full heat draw please check out visit Surfing Queensland
The 10th annual Occy's Grom Comp was made possible thanks to Billabong and supporting partners Volkswagen, Surfing Queensland, Kirra Surf, Kustom, Palmers Supa Glu, JS Industries, VonZipper, Nixon, Marine Rescue Point Danger, and special event media sponsors Australia's Surfing Life Magazine,
SEA FM radio and FUEL TV.