Participants in this year

Participants in this year's event gather for the ceremonial group photo underneath the Duke statue: Photo: Heff / Manulule

The Town and Country Surf Grom Contest kicked off in familiar fashion yet again along the storied shorelines of Waikiki. In the same lineups that spawned surfing's modern renaissance, hundreds of young surfers gathered for the contest this past weekend. With a sizable swell swooping into Oahu's South Shore, there was more than enough surf to go around.

While there are dozens of surf contest for groms and juniors held annually in Honolulu, this event is special in the fact that it caters toward the non-sponsored, non-competitive surfer. If you have stickers on your board or you've entered another contest, this isn't the event for you. However, if you're in love with the water and want to test yourself for the first time, than there's a singlet with your name on it.

By focusing on your regular young surfer, not the up-and-coming prodigy, Town and Country founder Craig Sugihara has created one of the most relaxed, care-free surf contests in Hawaii. You can see it on the toothy smiles plastered across every grom’s face when they enter a heat  With divisions for micro groms, tandem, bodyboard, and just about anything else that will float, this event is completely inclusive. There are no screaming soccer dads, and no pressure, just a simple love of surfing and a fun day at the beach.

"You've got to love this contest," said Town and Country rider Kekoa Bacalso, who volunteered at the event. "It's all about having a good time with your family, catching a couple of waves, and just enjoying Hawaii. This is what it's about for most young surfers and I'm always super stoked to be a part of it. Plus, just look at some of these kids’ faces! They're as happy as they can be. They're stoked just to be here surfing. It really doesn’t matter if you win or lose here. It's about sharing a love of the ocean and a love of surfing. I hope they run this event for another hundred years. This is what surfing is supposed to be about."