The next wave of Aussie surfing stars will be unleashed in the upcoming Quiksilver Australian Grommet Titles presented by Samsung with the country’s top U/18 surfers vying for national crowns in the 42nd annual event commencing this weekend.
The consistent beach-breaks of Ballina (Northern NSW) will provide the perfect battleground for nearly 200 aspiring professional surfers contesting for one of the ten Australian titles on offer. The U/18 boys, U/18 girls, U/16 boys and U/16 girls along with six national school titles will be decided from a qualifying field representing all states of Australia.
Adding to the already high stakes is the automatic inclusion of the victorious surfers in the U/18 boys, U/18 girls and U/16 boys into the 2007 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Championships in Portugal next May.
The list of past Australian champion reads like a who’s who of surfing including current big names Joel Parkinson (Coolangatta, QLD), Taj Burrow (Yallingup, WA), Phillip MacDonald (Tomakin,NSW), Tom Whitaker (Bronte), Dean Morrison (Gold Coast), Ben Dunn (Old Bar, NSW) reigning world champion Chelsea Georgeson (Avalon, NSW), Jessi Miley-Dyer (Bronte) and Stephanie Gilmore (Kingscliff, NSW).
Previous legend title holders include Tom Carroll (Newport), Damien Hardman (Narrabeen), Wayne Lynch (Vic), Simon Anderson (Narrabeen), Peter Drouyn (Gold Coast) and Nick Wood (Newcastle).
This year’s line-up is again brimming with talent with the likes of high profile juniors, Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW), Chris Salisbury (Newport Beach, Sydney), Garrett Parkes (Byron Bay, NSW) and Owen Wright (Culburra, NSW) all out for a 2006 Quiksilver Australian Grommet title.
Local Byron Bay super grommet Parkes will be contesting the tough U/16 boys division and is aware of how much an Aussie title would stand for. “To win in such a competitive field would be amazing. With the standard in Australian surfing so high it means you have really accomplished something. You always have that result under your belt. It is one of the most prestigious junior events in the country with the top competitor’s competing.”
The current U/16 NSW champion will have local knowledge on his side but Parkes won’t be discounting any of his rivals adding: “I think it gives me a slight advantage with just knowing that little bit extra about the waves. I also get to sleep in my own bed which is always good. But you can’t really underestimate anybody these days with the talent around. My main rivals would have to be Davey Cathels (Narrabeen), Dean Bowen (Gerroa, NSW) and Tommy Myers (Harbord, Sydney).”
Though both reigning U/16 Quiksilver Australian Grommet champions Fitzgibbons and Wright will be stepping up a division into the U/18’s this year the pair are regarded as two of the top contenders in the blue ribbon division.
Also up for grabs are the prestigious Duke Kahanomoku and Isabel Letham perpetual awards granted to the tournament’s most impressive male and female surfers.
The eight day tournament will run from Saturday November 25th to Saturday December 2nd. The opening ceremony will be staged this Saturday with competition commencing the following day Sunday November 26th. The main contest site if the east coast wave-magnet of North Wall Ballina but the tournament does have the option of going mobile north to Lennox Head, NSW.
The Quiksilver Australian Grommet Titles presented by Samsung are proudly supported by Surfing Australia, Surfing NSW, Roxy, Ballina Shire Council and the Australian School Surfing Association.