Twelve years into the Town & Country Gromfest and the good-natured event that got its start as a venue for unstickered Hawaiian juniors to showcase their talent may just now be hitting its stride. As Saturday morning in Honolulu broke to sunny skies and a 2- to 3-foot south swell filling into the Town seascape, flocks upon flocks of fresh-faced and goofy groms forewent their beloved Saturday morning cartoons and Coco Puffs and headed down to Queens in Waikiki for a weekend full of surf, sun, and smiles. By all indicators, it was one of the strongest showings in years as blonde headed and orthodontia donned groms abounded upon Waikiki with a fury.
"The whole idea behind this contest is to give the kids that aren't the top guys a place to surf and compete...and Queens is the perfect spot for that. Everybody loves Queens and it seems that just about everyone got their start here. Even Sunny Garcia started off surfing here back in the day," said Town & Country Surf founder Craig Sugihara with the most genuine of smiles stretched across his tanned face.
With divisions ranging from boys and girls bodyboard and shortboard to a father-son/daughter tandem heat, every surfer in the event had a place and opportunity to shine. Although the Town & Country Gromfest is supposed to serve as a place for young surfers that aren't budding professionals, judging from the raw talent in the boys and girls shortboard divisions, you'd be hard pressed to know that the kids competing in the comp hadn't already signed lucrative endorsement deals.
Of the many standouts surfing in the event, Kainehe Hunt may have taken the prize for the most enthusiastic grom at the event as the young Kauai native surfed in every division offered.
"This is my second year coming over here to Oahu for the event. I really like it. I like surfing Queens and making lots of new friends," said the towheaded 7-year-old ripper. "I hope I make a few finals, too."
Highlighting the event was the Expression Session that pitted the likes of parents and kids together in a high-flying and child-tossing acrobatic heat. Had you not been familiar with the heat that's ever a crowd favorite, you might have had Child Services on the line mid way through the first grom pitch. That said, there's not a kid out in the lineup that would want to be anywhere else. With parents hoisting their young surfers on the shoulders and gracefully tossing them into the sky, it's definitely a sight to see as the heat feels like equal parts ballet, waltzing, and longboarding.
At the end of the weekend, it was hard not to be sporting a toothy smile watching the magic of surfing unfold upon a new generation. For the past 12 years, Town & Country has gone above and beyond in their support of the backbone of the young Hawaiian surf scene, supporting the average grom that enjoys surfing for what it is, not because he's poised to be the next big thing. With a dozen years of support behind us, here's to a dozen more.
Full results of the 12th annual Town & Country Gromfest coming soon.