CHAMPIONS CROWNED IN PUMPING SURF AT THE 13TH ANNUAL TAJ'S SMALL FRIES

Seven champions have etched their names onto the prestigious Taj’s Small Fries honour roll, after an exciting finish to WA’s biggest and best junior surfing event today in Yallingup.

For the first time in Small Fries rich 13-year history, the event utilised Smith’s Reef with the move serving up postcard perfect conditions for the event finalists.

Under sunny skies and with a beach full of cheering supporters, some of Australia’s best junior surfers tore into groomed 2-3 feet barrelling rights and long running lefts, which made for yet another memorable finish to Taj Burrow’s signature tournament in his hometown of Yallingup.

Taj was instrumental in in the shift to Smith’s and he was clearly stoked mother nature provided his Small Fries in 2018. In between commentating the finals, Burrow took to giving out free haircuts with his trademark mohawk the flavour of the day with the grommets.

“It’s such a dreamy day down here, I was a bit nervous this morning when we made the call, but the waves have really turned on,” said Burrow. “It’s just been the most perfect location for a comp, I can’t believe that we’ve never held the event here before. I couldn’t be happier with how things have gone in 2018 and long live the Small Fries!”

Margaret River duo Finn Cox and Seth Van Haeften went head-to-head in the blue-ribbon 16 & Under Boys final. Surfing with aggression and precision Cox and Van Haeften traded high scoring waves, but it was Cox who landed the killer blows at the critical moments.

Cox posted a 9.0 and a 7.75 on his way to combined two-wave total of 16.75 (from a possible 20). The win makes it back-to-back victories for Cox in the 16 & Under Boys division.

“It’s been such a great event and today was the icing on the cake,” said Cox. “I can’t believe I’ve won it twice in a row and it was good to surf a final against my mate Seth.”

Emma Cattlin (Yallingup, WA) went also went back-to-back, winning the 16 & Under Girls division ahead of Maddie Cawood (Margaret River, WA) in a seesawing battle. 

Cattlin proved she’s one of WA’s next big things with another classic display of power surfing. Finishing on a combined total of 15.85 (from a possible 20), Cattlin left a much-improved Cawood chasing an 8.36 or better to steal the win away.

“I’m so happy, Smith’s is my local break and I was so stoked to hear that we’d be surfing the finals out here,” said Cattlin. “It’s my final year competing in the Small Fries and winning again means everything to me, this is where I started competing as a little kid and is cool I can finish as a winner.”

The 14 & Under Boys final was a pleasure to watch with all finalists doing their very best to take the win.

Solomon Pogue-Englert (Gracetown, WA), one of the standout surfers of the event scored an imposing 18.00 combined heat total (from a possible 20) that included a buzzer beating 9.25 (from a possible 10) and a back up 8.75 (from a possible 10). 

Pogue-Englert edged out Danny Benedetti (Margaret River, WA), Dexter Payenberg (East Fremantle, WA) and Jay Robinson (Dunsborough, WA) in one of the many quality heats of the day.

“That last wave felt so good, I knew I needed a score and I just did everything I could on it,” said Pogue-Englert. “I’m feeling beyond good right now, this is probably the biggest win I’ve ever had and I’m stoked to win the first event of the year.”

Zali Hewson (Margaret River, WA) scored an excellent 9.00 (from a possible 10) on her way to winning the 14 & Under Girls final. Using her smooth flowing style, Hewson posted a 16.25 (from a possible 20) to defeat Lilliana Bowrey (Sunshine Coast, QLD), Rosie Smart (Coffs Harbour, NSW) and Lilli Cox (Margaret River, WA).

“I’m just focusing on trying my best and having some fun out in the water and I’m so happy that it all came together for me out there then,” said Hewson.

Ryan Kainalo won the hotly contested 12 & Under Boys division, becoming the first ever Brazilian surfer to win at Taj’s Small Fries. Kainalo continued the strong tradition of international competitors travelling to Western Australia to compete and using a razor sharp rail game, sliced his way to a combined total of 12.45 (from a possible 20), defeating Lawson Thomas (Willagee, WA), Ned Hart (Dunsborough, WA) and Macklin Flynn (Mandurah, WA).

“I’m so happy to be here in Western Australia,” said Kainalo. “This is my first time to Australia and it’s been a great trip I won’t forget any time soon.”

Willow Hardy (Margaret River, WA) drew on her strong surfing pedigree to claim her third consecutive victory in the 12 & Under Girls division. Drawing some great lines on her forehand and backhand, Hardy posted a combined total of 11.65 (from a possible 20), leaving her opposition chasing good scores when the siren sounded. 

“It’s so amazing to have won again, I feel relieved because all the girls surf so well now,” said Hardy.  “The waves have been really fun and it was a great call to come to Smith’s, I’m not a big fan of Yallingup Main Break and today has been really fun.”

Taj paddled out with the 10 & Under finalists, trading waves with some of the youngest and most exciting young surfers in the event. 

Remy North (Dunsborough, WA) was a popular winner as he tapped into his local knowledge to take out his maiden Small Fries win, posting a 15.75 combined heat.

“I’m so stoked, amazed, and surprised to have won,” said North. “It’s been a great to get all the groms here to Yallingup from right across Australia.”

Seth Van Haeften, Zali Hewson and Solomon Pogue-Englert were recognised for their great surfing with 'Mayhem Performance Awards' while Finn Cox was awarded the Surfing World Grom Bash Trip.

Taj’s Small Fries is the second stop on Billabong’s Bloodlines Series, which alongside Parko’s Grom Stomp (Sunshine Coast, QLD), The Oz Grom Cup (Coffs Harbour, NSW) and Occy’s Grom Comp (Gold Coast, QLD), provide a one of a kind experience for Australia's next crop of emerging surfers and future World Champions.

Stay tuned to www.surfingwa.com.au for news, photos and updates relating to the 2018 Taj's Small Fries.

FINAL RESULTS – TAJ’S SMALL FRIES 2018:

16 & Under Boys:
1. Finn Cox (Margaret River, WA) – 16.75
2. Seth Van Haeften (Margaret River, WA) – 14.10

16 & Under Girls:
1. Emma Cattlin (Yallingup, WA) – 15.85
2. Maddie Cawood (Margaret River, WA) – 13.75

14 & Under Boys:
1. Solomon Pogue-Englert (Gracetown, WA) – 18.00
2. Danny Benedetti (Margaret River, WA) – 15.15
3. Dexter Payenberg (East Fremantle, WA) – 11.10
4. Jay Robinson (Dunsborough, WA) – 11.00

14 & Under Girls:
1. Zali Hewson (Margaret River, WA) – 16.25
2. Lilliana Bowrey (Sunshine Coast, QLD) – 13.25
3. Rosie Smart (Coffs Harbour, NSW) – 8.70
4. Lilli Cox (Margaret River, WA) – 8.50

12 & Under Boys:
1. Ryan Kainalo (Brazil) – 12.45
2. Lawson Thomas (Willagee, WA) – 9.10
3. Ned Hart (Dunsborough, WA) – 8.35
4. Macklin Flynn (Mandurah, WA) – 7.25

12 & Under Girls:
1. Willow Hardy (Margaret River, WA) – 11.65
2. Kaleisha Launders (Margaret River, WA) – 8.90
3. Ruby Berry (Augusta, WA) – 7.35
4. CJ Sheahan (Margaret River, WA) – 4.80

10 & Under Mixed:
1. Remy North (Dunsborough, WA) – 15.75
2. Will Martin (Coffs Harbour, NSW) – 13.80
3. Okie Frazer (Margaret River, WA) – 13.00
4. Maverick Wilson (Mandurah, WA) – 10.25
 
The Taj's Small Fries has been a stepping stone for a host of the countries best surfing talent since it started in 2006 - the Blue Ribbon 16 & under winners over the past years are listed below:

2017:
Finn Cox (WA)
Emma Cattlin (WA)

2016:
Josh Cattlin (WA)
April McPherson (WA)

2015:
Kael Walsh (WA)
Mia McCarthy (WA)

2014:
Reef Heazlewood (QLD)
Emi Campbell (WA)

2013:
Kai Hing (QLD)
Billie Melinz (NSW)

2012:
Jack Robinson (WA)
Eliza Greene (WA)

2011:
Jack Robinson (WA)
Zoe Clarke (VIC)

2010:
Jack Robinson (WA)
Mikaela Greene (WA)

2009:
Soli Bailey (NSW)
India Payne (VIC)

2008:
Regan Fredricks (NSW)
Laura Macauley (WA)

2007:
Dean Bowen (NSW)
Felicity Palmateer (WA)

2006:
Shaun Howe (WA)
Felicity Palmateer (WA)

About Taj's Small Fries Yallingup:
Taj’s Small Fries Yallingup, is a specialty junior surfing event named after Yallingup resident and international surfing star Taj Burrow. The annual event first started in 2006 and attracts some of the best junior surfing talent in the country to Yallingup in South-West WA.