North Stradbroke Island was terrorised by 90 little froth monsters this weekend as Bede Durbidge's first ever Fox Grom Shootout was run and won with tons of fun. At Sunday's end it was Ethan Ewing who won the U/16 boys and Lucy Callister the U/16 girls, while Burleigh's Josh Grange claimed the U/12 boys, with surfers in the U/10 and U/8 boys and girls divisions all taking home trophies and medals. Really though, everyone who competed came away winning, with plenty of prizes, lots of waves, a few memorable wipe-outs and a heap of new friends for all.
Saturday saw the groms tackling meaty waves at Main Beach, with a solid southerly swell serving up huge sets out the back and chunky reforms on the inside. A dead shovel-nose ray on the beach, with huge chunks of its body missing, served as a reminder of some of the other dangers lurking in this part of the world but the kids couldn't be deterred and took to the surf without a second thought. The young'uns were put on hold until the Sunday, leaving the older boys got to work, with some great performances from them all.
After a long first day of competition the Point Lookout Surf Lifesaving Club hosted a movie night for the surfers, and if you thought the kids got stuck into the waves during the day then you should have seen them attack the free pizza that night! According to Bede there was a bigger turnout for the screening of Fox's movie No Filter at Straddie than there was for the actual premiere in the US, and the groms loved it.
The swell jumped on Sunday and Bede made the call to move the event to the more grom-friendly, though less friendly-sounding, Deadman's Bay. The surf on the sheltered side of the island couldn't have been better for competition, with fun three-foot runners reeling for 100 metres, allowing the surfers to showcase their skills. A highlight was Bede pushing his two-year-old daughter Willow into waves in the girls U/8s, and the huge reaction all of the girls and boys who surfed (not competed) in the younger divisions got from the folks on the sand.
Kian Shahar was the best performer from the Fox stable, finishing 4th in the U/16 boys. With a crisp style and a smile to boot, Kian was a dominant performer in the early rounds but couldn't find the steeper waves in the final.
The whole weekend was run in great spirits, with Bede a shining example of how a role model should carry themselves. The current world number nine was first to the beach and last to leave all weekend, and did everything from commentating to dispensing heat strategy advice, paddling out and saving stricken surfers to signing autographs and giving out plenty of product. Bede took full ownership of the event, and with the backing of the guys from Fox made the weekend a special affair that the groms will long remember.
It was a sun kissed and smiling pack of surfers who shipped out of Straddie at the end of the weekend, everyone excited about the thought of coming back in 2014 to do it all again, no doubt in even bigger and better style. Huge pat-on-the-back to Bede for a job well done, congrats to everyone who competed, and thanks a million to all the sponsors who participated, the local community who really got behind the event, and the Point Lookout Board riders for their massive assistance in running and judging the contest.
Ps. Special shout out to Fox Grom, Alex Hayes for handing his board over mid-heat on the first day, after his fellow competitor snapped his leg rope and was genuinely in a bit of trouble in the rough seas. Alex then swum in to make sure everything was OK, before paddling back out to try and get through to the next round. Well done matey!