Young Japanese Surfer Steals Limelight At Quiksilver Grommet

An 11-year-old Japanese surfer stole the limelight at the Quiksilver Grommet at Sydney’s North Narrabeen Beach today.

Competing against much older surfers in the Under 16 Boys division, Kyouhei Yamada won his heat on a countback against New Zealand’s Owen McMillan and Tahiti’s Heifara Tahutini.

Yamada started surfing at the age of seven in Chiba, and he impressed all with the maturity of his surfing and his polished style.

Event commentator John Shimooka, who competed on the world professional tour for 15 years until recently, said he expected that Yamada could be the first Japanese surfer to qualify for the World Championship Tour (WCT).

“For 11 years of age, he was doing the manoeuvres of a 15-year-old,” Shimooka said. “In half metre waves, he was doing big backhand tail slides and releasing the fins on every turn. He looked very mature and polished for his age.”

Shimooka said that with more than one million surfers in Japan, it was inevitable that one would eventually make it onto the World Championship Tour (WCT).

“Kyouhei’s definitely got the looks of someone who could make it,” Shimooka said. “Everything about his surfing was very stylistic and it’s just a matter of time before a Japanese surfer comes through with a win in an event like this.”

On the second day of the Quiksilver Grommet competition between the best junior surfers from nine nations, Australian surfers fared well in the Under 16 Boys division, winning three of the eight heats with victories to Jay Davies (Yallingup, WA), Luke Cheadle (Culburra, NSW) and James Wood (Lennox Head, NSW).

Wood, 16, said he had to be very patient. “You had to make sure that your wave selection was good and that you got the scores you needed,” he said. Overall, he said the Australian team was looking very good. “We’re a very strong team and everyone is really positive.”

However it was a South African, Damien Fahrenfort, from Capetown, who scored the highest points of the round, 22.75 out of 30, in defeating Great Britain’s Reubyn Ash and Australia’s Wade Goodall.

“I’ve been practising quite a bit out here at North Narrabeen and feeling strong since I arrived here a week ago,” Fahrenfort, 15, said. “We’ve got a strong team here and we’ve all been training hard.”

Other heat winners in the Under 16 Boys were: New Zealanders Nathan Welch and Dean Amess, and Tahiti’s Tehereiti Raoulx.

Australians won two of the four Under 19 Girls heats with victories to Amanda Clegg (Burleigh, Queensland) and Jesse Miley-Dyer (Coogee, NSW). The other girls heats were won by South Africa’s Jessica Matthews and Japan’s Mizuki Hagiwara.

In a requalifying round, current world junior champion Warwick Wright, from South Africa, made it back into the main event of the Under 18 Boys after placing second in his heat.

The first round of the Teams Title was also held today with New Zealand and South Africa recording victories.

New Zealand (52.15) defeated Japan (46.75) and Great Britain (37.75), while South Africa (55.25) defeated Australia (54.15) and Spain (52.35) in an extremely close round.

The Quiksilver Grommet has three individual world titles and the overall world teams title on offer. It is sanctioned by the International Surfing Association (ISA) and continues until Sunday this week in the best surf on Sydney’s northern beaches.