There are certain experiences that will stick with all young Hawaiian surfers. There's your first wave, your first trip to the North Shore, your first cutback, and of course, your first entry into Town & Country's annual Waikiki Grom Contest. A hallmark event for more than a decade, you'd be hard-pressed to find a young Hawaiian surfer who hasn’t competed in the event. This past weekend, the contest marked its 15th year anniversary with all of the fun that has come to define the comp.
This year, Town & Country drew a line in the sand when they announced that all NSSA and HASA-ranked surfers were ineligible to compete. From its outset 15 years ago, the now-iconic grom contest was built upon the idea of introducing competition to young surfers in a no-pressure atmosphere. Although the new rule may have raised a few eyebrows from parents with kids already wading into organized competition, the stipulation was an affirmation of the event's original intent. At its core, this contest is about positive beginnings for young surfers interested in competition. The grit and intensity can come later.
"We’re stoked to focus our event on providing a fun introduction to competitive surfing," says Craig Sugihara, president and founder of T&C. "This year no NSSA, HASA, or other competitive surfers will be eligible to participate. We think this is a positive development, as there are many contests out there for surfers who focus their energy on competing. Our goal, as always, is to share the stoke of surfing with as many people as possible and bring family and friends together for a fun weekend of surfing."
In what has become standard for the event, the highlights were the tandem heats. Picture the burliest surfer imaginable paired with a fresh-out-of-diapers grom to the tune of many whistles and a symphony of hoots and you've got a pretty good idea of why it’s become such a favorite. To boot, the contest was stocked with enough prizes to hold the kids off until Christmas, all of which made this year’s Grom Contest one of the most memorable.
While it’s becoming more common for young surfers to find sponsorship by their 12th birthday, the T&C Grom Comp is a reminder of how fun competition can be without all the pressure.