Billabong Occy’s Grom Comp Celebrates Fifth Year At Duranbah

Billabong Occy’s Grom Comp
Duranbah, Gold Coast Australia
July 5-6 2008

June 26, 2008: – – The prestigious Billabong Occy’s Grom Comp on the Gold Coast will celebrate its fifth year next week when over 250 of the country’s top young surfers descend on Duranbah Beach to contest the four day event.

Developed by Billabong in 2004 at the bequest of 1999 World Surfing Champion Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, the Occy’s Grom Comp event has been responsible for discovering a host of Australia’s top junior surfers. Former event champions include Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW), Chris Friend (Sunshine Coast), Garret Parkes (Byron Bay), Creed McTaggart (Margaret River) and Ryan Callinan (Merewether).

Occy will oversee the first two days of his grommet event before jetting off to South Africa to compete in the trials of the Billabong Pro at Jeffreys Bay. The powerful goofy footer could not pass up on the opportunity to face the world’s top 45 surfers at the wave he is renowned for surfing backside better than anyone.

“Last year I was at the beach for pretty much every day and I got to see some really good heats,” said Occhilupo. “When I first started this event with Billabong there was only 30 kids in each division and now there is over 250 kids all up. It’s an honour to think that grommets are coming from all over the country and all over the world to compete in my event.”

“I’m really looking forward to Jeffreys,” said Occhilupo.  “I’m in the trials, but if I win my heat I will go straight into the main event. If it is good J-Bay then I definitely feel like I can mix it up out there.”

The 2008 event has attracted surfers from all over Australia and as far away as New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia and French Polynesia. The Occy’s Grom Comp is the most professionally run grommet surfing event in Australia, utilising the same computer scoring system used on top level Pro Junior and World Qualifying Series events.  Unlike other grommet surfing events in the country, Occy’s event does not “Double Bank” and heats are limited to four surfers only.

“It’s important that these young kids, who are at the beginning of their surfing careers are taught how to surf competitions the right way,” said Surfing QLD Events Coordinator Scott Gilles. “There will be no double banking which means the four kids in the water at any given time will have 100% focus from the judges and from the crowd on the beach.”

The Billabong Occy’s Grom Comp features five surfing divisions including 16/U Boy’s, 16/U Girl’s, 14/U Boy’s, 14/U Girl’s and 12/U Boy’s. The demand to compete in the event is so intense that entries have been completely full for over a month. 28 surfers are on the alternate list for the 16/U boy’s.

While defending 16/U champions Sally Fitzgibbons and Garret Parkes are too old to defend their 2007 titles, the entry list represents a who’s who of young Australian talent. Current 16/U world surfing champion Tamaroa McComb (Coolangatta/Tahiti) will start as red hot favourite in the 16/U Boy’s, but will be challenged by former 14/U champion Ryan Callinan (Merewether), Jake Sylvester (Bar Beach), local surfer Thomas Woods (Coolangatta) and fellow Tahitian Enrique Ariitu.

The 16/U and 14/U Girl’s divisions have also attracted the cream of the crop from around Australia including Felicity Palmateer (WA), Ellie-Jean Coffee (Crescent Head), India Payne (VIC), Niki Hoskin (Lennox Head) and the daughters of former world number three Dave Macaulay, Laura and Ellie.

The Billabong Occy’s Grom Comp is supported by Panasonic and Surfing QLD.