Coolangatta kid Jack Freestone is on the track to surf stardom after toppling a swag of the nation’s top young guns to bag the blue ribbon 16 and under boy’s crown at the fifth-annual Billabong Occy’s Grom Comp on the Gold Coast today.
A standout from start to finish, Freestone mixed a polished rail attack with gravity defying aerial moves to beat Avoca’s Wade Carmichael, Banora Point’s Sam Clift and Currarong’s Jordi Watson in a high-scoring, 20 minute final.
“I’m stocked to win Occy’s event,” said Freestone. “I see him surf everyday, so to win the event named after him means everything to me.” In fun 1-metre beach break waves at Duranbah, Freestone was the superior surfer all day and finalised an impressive campaign with a heat total of 18.06 to Carmichael’s total tally of 13.53.
The 16-year-old set-up the win with his second ride (8.83) before going on to post a heat high ride of 9.23 with just minutes remaining to extend his lead. Carmichael did enough to net second, leaving Clift (13.40) in third and Watson (10.40) in fourth.
“Everything just seemed to work for me today,” he said. “I’ve had a shocking run in events lately, but today was different. My board felt unreal and I was full of confidence.”
Freestone now joins a who’s who of young Australian talent that have tasted glory at the Occy’s Grom Comp including Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW), Chris Friend (Sunshine Coast), Garret Parkes (Byron Bay), Creed McTaggart (Margaret River) and Ryan Callinan (Merewether).
Joining Freestone on the day’s winner’s podium was Port Macquarie star Matt Banting, who trumped a class field in the 14 and under boys to net a trifecta of wins in professional surfer inspired events.
Banting, who won the same division at the Billabong Taj’s Small Fries in January before taking out the Billabong Parko’s Grom Stomp in April, lived up to expectation, disposing of Noa Deane (Coolangatta), Harrison Mann (Torquay) and Mitchell Parkinson (Coolangatta) in a tight affair.
Banting went from strength-to-strength, netting a pair of 8’s to finish with a 16.47 two-wave combination to Deane’s 15.33.
The Wright family continued their giant-killing act at the five-day tournament with pint-sized Michael Wright (Culburra, NSW) bagging the 12 and under boy’s crown.
Following his sister Tyler’s victory in the 16 and under girls, Wright entertained the large crowd that gathered at Duranbah for the finals, lighting up the line-up en route to defeating Jack Germain (Lake Cathie), Jackson Baker and William Prickett (Tahiti).
‘Mini Wright’ laid down some potent front side turns in the overhead conditions, charging to victory with a 14.83 combination.
The 14 girls division was also finalised today with the cream of Australia’s junior surfing fraternity going head-to-head as a new breed of female stars made their mark.
Coolangatta ace Sarah Mason, the younger sister of New Zealand surfing export Airini Mason, shot into the limelight with her own brand of backhand surfing, upstaging Amiya Doyle (Coolangatta), Ellie-Jean Coffey (Crescent Head) and Bronte Macaulay (Margaret River) to come up trumps.
Adding to the event’s already high stakes, Panasonic put two digital FX36 Lumix cameras on the line as part of the Panasonic Best Wave competition.
Freestone backed up his convincing win by surfing away with a camera for the highest individual wave score across (9.23) the respective boy’s finals, while Culburra’s Tyler Wright snatched the Panasonic prize in the 16 and under girl’s division final for an 8.83 ride
Occy oversaw the opening day of his grommet event before jetting off to South Africa to compete in the trials of the Billabong Pro at Jeffreys Bay. The powerful goofy footer could not pass up on the opportunity to face the world’s top 45 surfers at the wave he is renowned for surfing backside better than anyone.
“I’m really looking forward to Jeffreys,” said Occhilupo. “I’m in the trials, but if I win my heat I will go straight into the main event. If it is good J-Bay then I definitely feel like I can mix it up out there.”
Source: Surfing Australia