Occy's Grom Comp to celebrate ten years
ONE Aussie surfing's most prestigious junior events will celebrate its 10th year when the week-long Occy's Grom Comp kicks off at Duranbah Beach on June 29th. Like its namesake, 1999 World Champion and sporting legend, Mark "Occy" Occhilupo, the annual tournament is a benchmark for surfing greatness and longevity.
"It's unreal to think we've been running it for 10 years, the contest has gone from strength-to-strength," explained Occhilupo who in conjunction with his main sponsor, Billabong, conceptualised the contest back when he was still competing as a full-time professional.
"I love watching the young kids coming through, they're just surfing so good these days. The standard is really high. There're fourteen and fifteen year old grommets doing aerials and other manouvers that would have won you a world tour event when I was their age. It's amazing to see the young generation doing the kinds of surfing we used to dream of doing."
The 2013 edition of Occy's Grom Comp has attracted a whopping 230 competitors who will compete across five divisions (U/16 Boys & Girls, U/14 Boys & Girls, U/12 Boys) and the field includes internationals from Indonesia, New Zealand, South Africa, Tahiti and Europe.
"It's a huge turnout this year," adds Occhilupo. "We run the contest during the school holidays so all the kids have the chance to go in it. And their families show up too which means there's a lot of people at the beach, mums, dads … everyone's surfing! The past winners have all gone on to bigger and better things.
"I've watched the likes of Joel (Parkinson) and Mick (Fanning) since they were teenagers, and now they're world champions. I think we'll see more of that from the surfers who are competing next week," added Occy.
Ones to watch in 2013 include Shaun Manners (Margaret River, WA), Kai Hing (Sunshine Coast, QLD), Jake Wilcox (Margaret River, WA), Kalani Ball (Stanwell Park, NSW) and Jackson Baker (Newcastle, NSW).
In the U/16 girls, defending champ Holly Sue Coffey (Coolangatta, QLD) will be going for a repeat performance and in the Under 14 boys Reef Hazelwood (Caloundra, Qld), Kyuss King (Byron Bay, NSW) and Kehu Butler (NZ) are likely to put in a good showing.
One surfer to whom Occy will be paying particular attention is his own son, Jay, who will be competing in his dad's event for the first time.
Like the event itself, Jay is ten years old, and has already clocked up his share of hours at Duranbah and the nearby points.
"I'm really proud of Jay and how he's coming along with his sport, he likes rugby league and of course he loves surfing," explains Occy.
"The Grom Comp will be really good practice for him, and with such a huge international turn-out, it's a good chance for him to see how the other kids are surfing too."
And will the former World Champ be sharing some tips with his young charge? You bet!
"I'll give him tips for sure," says Occ. "Just basic stuff, picking waves, where to sit, but the main thing is to have fun and get a bit of experience."