Excitement is building as Western Australia’s biggest, best and most prestigious junior surfing tournament prepares for a start next week, with Taj’s Small Fries set to splash down in Yallingup for the 18th consecutive year.
First run in 2006, Taj’s Small Fries has become a rite of passage for many of the Australia’s best young surfers, launching the careers of numerous surfing stars since it’s inception.
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.
After an amazing international career spanning almost two decades, event host and WA’s most successful male surfer, Burrow is pumped to see another generation of groms tackling the same waves and stretch of stunning coastline he himself grew up surfing.
“It blows my mind that it’s been 18 years since we started this thing, I think back to the early days and some of the juniors who have come through Small Fries and gone onto some amazing things, some of them are now my favourite surfers,” said Burrow. “Noa Deane, Jack Freestone, Ryan Callinan, Creed McTaggart, Shaun Manners are just a few names that jump to mind.”
The tradition of unearthing amazing talent will continue in 2023, with close to 130 frothing ‘small fries’ converging on Taj Burrow’s hometown of Yallingup for three days of fun and festivities.
“Some of my fondest memories have to be seeing the young boys and girls stepping up and charging, some of the conditions we’ve had over the years have been huge,” Burrow continued. “It’s so sick to see the smiles on those little ones faces when they come in and everyone is cheering and supporting them.”
Launching Surfing WA’s extensive competition schedule for 2023, Taj’s Small Fries will welcome back a strong contingent of international and east coast surfers for the first time in years. Competitors from Japan, Indonesia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia are set to challenge local WA surfers who will compete in Under-12, Under-14, Under-16, and for the first time ever, Under-18 divisions.
“I’m looking forward to seeing some of the local lads like Maverick Wilson and Otis North competing on home soil,” said Burrow. “After a few years where it’s been tough to travel, I’m really excited to see some kids from the east coast getting involved again because it’s always good to see how the WA talent matches up against those kids from across the country and overseas.”
Forming part of Surfing Australia’s National Junior Rankings System, Taj’s Small Fries is the first marquee event of the year, with 6500 points up for grabs for the event champions. The National Rankings allow every competitive surfer access to their individual Australian ranking compared to all other surfers in their respective age divisions.
“Taj’s Small Fries is a truly unique event that continues to grow in stature each and every year,” said Surfing WA Events Manager Justin Majeks. “We’re thrilled to be welcoming back surfers from outside of Western Australia in 2023, and Yallingup is such an amazing setting for an event like this.”
As well as three days of red-hot surfing action amongst Yallingup’s world-class waves, there will be no shortage of fun and interactive opportunities for competitors and families to enjoy throughout the event.
Presenting partner Board.Store will be hosting the Small Fries Ping Pong Challenge on Saturday afternoon where competitors can play table tennis against each other before facing Taj for the chance to win a swag of amazing prizes and giveaways.
Surfing Western Australia is excited to again be partnering with former Perth Wildcat Greg Hire and his organisation, A Stitch in Time (ASIT). ASIT aims to teach young West Australians the importance of mental health and wellbeing, and provides participants with a suite of tools and techniques that can be utilised to increase resilience in times of disruption and change, and assist in their own personal growth and development.
“Sport, and events like the Taj’s Small Fries are at the heart of local communities, helping to forge close community ties and a strong sense of place. It’s an absolute privilege and honour, to partner with Surfing WA to provide mental health education and advocacy at such a spectacular event,” said Hire. “Our team will provide support to athletes for emotional regulation or getting into the optimum performance zone. This will complimentary to our chill out area where surfers can hang out, play video games, colour in, have an ice cream, and take part in a number of fun and interactive activities that we will be hosting.”
Another exciting innovation for 2023, will be see Taj’s Small Fries live streamed for the first time via www.streamer.com.au allowing people anywhere in the world to tune in and watch the action as it happens in Yallingup.
Taj’s Small Fries will kick off early next Friday, with non-elimination round one heats before the top seeded surfers hit the water in round two. Surfing will continue all day Saturday before finals day on Sunday.
You can keep up to date with all the action by following Surfing WA’s social media platforms or by checking out www.surfingwa.com.au
Surfing WA reminds all our traveling competitors and families of the dangers of sending a text message or using a mobile phone while behind the wheel – Ditch the distraction and remember #NoTxtNoWrecks.
About Taj’s Small Fries Yallingup:
Taj’s Small Fries, is WA’s biggest, best and most prestigious junior surfing event. Named after Yallingup resident and international surfing icon Taj Burrow. The event will celebrate 18 year in 2023 after first running back in 2006. Taj’s Small Fries attracts some of the best junior surfing talent from across Australasia to Yallingup in the South-West of Western Australia and is a key stepping stone on Surfing WA’s development pathway.