Close to 180 of Australasia’s best young surfers are gearing up to ride a wave of excitement next week, with Western Australia’s biggest, best and most prestigious junior surfing event preparing for its 19th year of grommet stoke along the shores of Yallingup.
Taj’s Small Fries is not just about riding waves; it’s a celebration of surf culture and community. Welcoming junior surfers from Indonesia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and right across Western Australia, the event forms part of Surfing Australia’s National Junior Rankings System and is the first of just five marquee 10,000 point rated events in 2024.
Small Fries will kick off Surfing Western Australia’s comprehensive competition schedule for the year, with the event expanded to four action-packed days for the first time since its inception in 2006.
After an amazing international career spanning almost two decades, event host and WA’s most successful male surfer, Taj Burrow is pumped to see another generation of groms tackling the same waves and stretch of stunning coastline he himself grew up surfing.
“19 years that’s just incredible, I’m so happy that after all this time the event is still more popular than ever,” Burrow said. “Expanding the event to four days is amazing, it didn’t feel right knocking back kids that wanted to compete, so I’m thrilled that we can take on even more now, with over 180 groms entering – it’s insane!”
Taj’s Small Fries has become a rite of passage for Australia’s best young surfers, propelling the careers of surfing stars like Jack Robinson, Jacob Willcox, Bronte Macaulay, and many more. Burrow is excited to witness the next generation of grommets descend on Yallingup, and he holds many fond memories of the event, recalling epic battles and the rise of surfers like Felicity Palmateer, Matt Banting, Jack Freestone, and Ryan Callinan.
“Having the event considered one of the best junior tournaments in Australia and being rated amongst the top five is a great feeling,” he said. “We’ve had so much talent through this event over the years and I’m just so happy that all the kids consider this a special event. I think they love the waves in Western Australia and it’s just cool to see this event considered one of the prestigious ones, so yeah I’m really thrilled about that.”
With divisions for boys and girls spanning from Under-12’s through to Under-18’s, the event promises fierce competition and a chance for WA’s local talent to shine on their home turf.
“Having a few international’s and especially so many eastern states kids coming to the event is huge for WA kids,” Burrow said. “You know it’s one thing to win State Titles, but when you’re up against Australia’s best, it’s a lot more exciting and it’s really cool for all these kids who I know surf so well to see them compare themselves to the country’s best. It’s fun for me and it’s fun for all the spectators to watch because you start getting the interstate rivalries happening and there are so many kids making their way over so it’s going to be fun to watch.”
“This is a major coup for our WA junior surfers,” said Surfing WA Events Manager Justin Majeks. “Having a highly rated event in their backyard at the start of the year is amazing and hopefully allows them to qualify for the other big events throughout the year.”
Surfing WA is stoked to partner with Board.Store who will be hosting the Taj’s Small Fries Ping Pong Challenge, providing competitors a chance to face off against Taj in table tennis and snag some incredible prizes. Additionally, there will be surf movie screenings, art exhibitions, on-beach coaching as mental health presentations for competitors and parents.
City of Busselton Mayor Phill Cronin said, “We have some amazing young surfing talent here in the South West and across Australia and we are delighted to again support this youth-focused surfing event.”
“Over the past 19 years, this event has put our unique and pristine surf beaches on the map and provides a fantastic opportunity to highlight the local talent in our surfing community. I wish participants all the best and thank event organisers for what will undoubtedly be another memorable comp. I also extend my thanks to the families, support teams and spectators who bring a wonderful, community vibe to this event.”
And remember, as you ride the waves of excitement, ditch the distractions on the road – #NoTxtNoWrecks.
About Taj’s Small Fries Yallingup:
Taj’s Small Fries, WA’s biggest, best, and most prestigious junior surfing event, celebrating it’s 19th year in 2024. Named after surfing legend Taj Burrow, the event has been a key stepping stone on Surfing WA’s development pathway since first running in 2006. Each year Yallingup attracts some of the best junior surfing talent from across Australasia for an annual celebration of surf culture and competition.
Jack Robinson (Margaret River, WA), Bronte Macaulay (Gracetown, WA), Jacob Willcox (Margaret River, WA), Soli Bailey (Byron Bay, NSW), Kael Walsh (Yallingup, WA), Ryan Callinan (Newcastle, NSW), Mia McCarthy (Margaret River, WA), Kai Hing (Sunshine Coast, QLD), Reef Heazlewood (Caloundra, QLD), Felicity Palmateer (Margaret River, WA) and Zahli Kelly (Tweed Coast, NSW), are just a few of the surfers to have captured Small Fries victories in the past as youngsters.