• Taj’s Small Fries Yallingup Gets Spicy On Day Two


The ninth edition of Taj’s Small Fries got serious today with 27 heats of elite junior surfing run in the fun 3-foot peaks on offer at Shallows, at the north end of Yallingup Beach.

Every division progressed to at least the quarter final stages, the girls and boys 12 & under divisions took to the water for the first time, and a large midday crowd was on hand to witness an incredible display of surfing from the man who lends his name to the event, Taj Burrow.

There was lots of action as the 14 and 16 & under bracket joined the fray, standouts for the boys including Kian Martin (IND), Logan Steinwere (NSW) and Seth Van Haeften (Margaret River), who looked superb in his opening heat. On the ladies side of the draw Arabelle Gibson (Margaret River) showed she’ll be a force to be reckoned with later on in the draw with a very polished display.

In the 14 & under division Summa Longbottom (NSW) and April McPherson (Mandurah) shone as they surfed through to the girls final, while Fletcher Llanwarne (Sorrentto) and Ben Gradisen (Margaret River) were impressive progressing through the rounds in the boys division.

One of the weekend’s highlights will surely go down as the half-hour high performance clinic put on by Taj Burrow at the stroke of noon. Paddling out among a crowd of excited grommets Taj was all over every wave that reared its head, and despite the fading swell showed surfers half his size and a third of his age just what could be done in the lineup. Displaying a full repertoire of aerials, fins-out turns and searing carves Taj was mobbed on exiting the water and spent time on the beach afterwards signing autographs, posing for photos and dishing out advice to any youngster with a question.

The expression session lead straight into the quarter finals of the boys 16 & under divison, and immediately local standout Shaun Manners (Margaret River) channeled his inner-Taj to unleash the best individual performance of the event. With an 8.5 already in his scoreline and time ticking down Manners pulled off the move of the day, a full rotation, tail-high air reverse on exactly the same section that Burrow had stuck a number of similar manoeuvres only moments earlier.

“I was watching Taj so closely,” said Manners, after locking in a 9.5 for his wave, “and he definitely showed what was possible out there. Being a natural footer the southerly wind is perfect for doing airs, and seeing a couple of Taj’s got me really excited to try some. I don’t normally land many aerials in competition but when that section popped up I had to go for it, and it came off. Pretty happy!”

With a predicted kick in the swell overnight , competitors are asked to meet at Yallingup again tomorrow morning, with competition commencing at 7.00am. Event organizers predict we’ll be headed up the beach to Shallows once more tomorrow to conclude another chapter in the fantastic history of Taj’s Small Fries. Presentations will take place at Caves House at conclusion of the finals, and all are invited to attend. Please log on to the Surfing WA website for updated heat draws and more information.