GROMS GALORE - A T&C Grom Contest Recap

It’s Summer again and you know what that means…south swells, no school, surfing all day, and the T&C Grom Contest. Since 1998 the T&C Grom Contest has been a highly anticipated event for kids and families. Junior surfers and ohana from all over the island chain gather in the heart of beautiful Waikiki to compete at Queens, the birthplace of modern surfing. Bragging rights and a bag full of awesome prizes from sponsors like Dakine, Vertra, Vans, RVCA and more. There’s also a draw for a special raffle for extra prizes like board bags and skateboards. 

But this year instead of crowding the beaches and clearing the lineup, T&C Surf is presenting the very first virtual T&C Grom Contest due to the pandemic. The turnout was amazing. 232 junior surfers signed up, and set out to capture their best ride at Queens between June 7, 2021 and July 31, 2021. After submitting the video clips to our digital platform, the rides were viewed and judged on a 0.1-10 point system based on HASA judging criteria of performance, maneuvers, and flow. A lot of the heats were pretty close! Prize packs and medals were awarded to the top three in each division. 

Let’s hone in on some of the highlights from the lineup. The girls 10-12 year old longboard division was the most stacked heat with a whopping 23 video entries! It was neck and neck with Cash Hoover and Joie Kaiu trading off excellent scores. Cash Hoover nabbed a clean ride and showcased her cross-stepping skills all the way to a long beautiful nose ride, then finished it off with a stylish pair of cutbacks, securing her a 7.87. Joie Kaiu’s wave was a bit bigger. Kaiu perfectly faded the drop-in and timed her cross-step nicely to a hang-10, and was able to hold on through the fast section to complete the ride. The judges rewarded Joie with an 8.33! But it was Puaiohi DeFries who edged out the field with an 8.6 on a beautiful set wave. Right off the drop, Puaiohi wasted no time making her way to the nose for a gorgeous hang-5. Then DeFries completed a beautiful backside cutback to rebound, and again made her way back to the nose for a second nose ride. This was Puaiohi’s first time ever competing. When asked how she prepared, she said, “I would go down to Waikiki beach everyday and surf with my friends. We would have practice competitions against each other and it was so fun!” She was riding her favorite 9’3 Naupaka Myers log. Looks like it’s working for her. 

Another stacked heat with tons of entries was the boys 10-12 year old longboard division. Christian Parker took third place close behind runner up Mars Shuman. Both posted solid scores in the 7 point range, but it was Hayden Pangilinan who scored the highest wave of the heat with a sick 9.27! When asked about the epic ride, he said, “I didn't think that would be my winning wave but I was super psyched after catching that.” He added, “I actually caught my dream wave for the contest by doing a nose ride on the biggest bomb of the morning but when I got in my Dad ran up to me saying that his camera had run out of footage space and he had missed the wave.” Well, it seems Dad is fired for missing that wave, but then rehired for nailing the winning ride. Way to go Dad and Hayden! 

Chase Friel Boys Shortboard Division 9-10 years oldChase Friel - Boys Shortboard Division 9-10 years old

A division that is always action packed is the boys 11-12 year old short board. This was another highly competitive heat with a lot of entries. The top four spots posted scores in the excellent range of 8.0 or better. Kau-Alia Moleta got an 8.23 on a nice wall that allowed him to give it two good gouges before going straight up on the lip to finish off the wave with a beautiful snap. Hezekiah Lagestee got sendy with one big maneuver. He raced his way down a dreamy right, found tons of speed, and punted a massive straight air over the closeout section to secure an 8.33 from the judges. But it was Sunny Giles who stood out with classic surfing at this classic wave, and posted the highest score of the heat and the highest score of the event, a near perfect 9.83! This was possibly the biggest wave of the contest. Giles glided into it with ease, threw down a huge cutback, right into another bottom turn, and then jammed it straight up into the most critical section of the wave, blew the fins out the back, and rode it out with control. Two judges even gave it a perfect 10! Way to go Sunny! Sunny has been doing the T&C Grom Contest since he was 7. When asked if it felt like a heat out there, he said, no, he just “went out and had fun. Waves were super fun. Super crowded but still fun!” He was modest and a man of few words, but wanted to thank “Unko Glenn Minami for shaping my boards”…especially the 4'10" round pin he won on ;). Sunny would also like to say “Mahalo for T&C for putting on the T&C Grom Contest and my family for always surfing with me.” You’re most welcome Sunny. 

Kenzi Nakamura girls shortboard division Queens

Photo: Kenzi Nakamura, Girls Shortboard Division 6-8 years old

Now on over to another highly anticipated heat that just melts our hearts, the youngest division, the 6-8 year olds. There were a lot of entries in the girls division and so many fun rides. Julianna Laeha took third place riding a screamer from Baby Queens almost all the way to shore. She even threw in some hula hands for style points. Kailia Lagestee got runner up with a nice clean ride at Babies that she was able to get some fun wiggles on. The top spot went to Kendyl Asato who nabbed an overhead wave all the way out at Queens! She stuck the drop on a beautiful left and gave it one hard cutback into the whitewater, held on and then slashed it again for a nice finish. The judges awarded her with a standout 7.5 score. Kendyl said she just started surfing recently. “I started surfing last year in Waikiki during the Covid shut down and haven’t stopped since.” When asked if she felt nervous in her first surf contest, she said, “I felt kind of nervous surfing at Queens because there are a lot of good longboarders. I wanted to have fun but I also wanted to do good while my dad was filming with his phone.” Having fun and doing good is a great game plan and it definitely worked out for her. Keep it up Kendyl! She also says, “I would like to thank my parents for teaching me how to surf, buying us cool boards, and taking my brother and me almost everyday!”

Winning groms with goodie bags and medals.Well that’s it for us here at the T&C Grom Contest. We hope you’ve had as much fun out there surfing Queens as we’ve had watching your best rides. To catch up on all the fun, you can watch all of the entries at: Thanks to everyone who participated and kept the stoke alive. See you next year! 



  1. Kendyl Asato
  2. Kailia Lagestee
  3. Juliana Laeha 


  1. Aukai Tanaka
  2. Kingston Palakiko
  3. Neon Kasuya 


  1. Emma Colandrea
  2. Kylie Oshiro Kaneshiro
  3. Kuulie Tejada 


  1. Chase Friel
  2. Kaniela Miranda
  3. Noah Kawamura


  1. Elliana Schiffner
  2. Kenzi Nakamura
  3. Taimalie Tejada


  1. Sunny Giles
  2. Hezekiah Lagestee
  3. Kau Alia-Moleta


  1. Hiwalei Young
  2. Kailani Palakiko
  3. Malayana Schiffner


  1. Cade Bernier
  2. Keegan Cooper
  3. Keawe Kauwe

 LONGBOARD GIRLS (10-12)                                                                                                  

  1. Puaiohi DeFries
  2. Joie Kaiu
  3. Cash Hoover


  1. Hayden Pangilinan
  2. Mars Shuman
  3. Christian Parker 


  1. Saezen Souza
  2. Joaquin Hancock
  3. Kehaulani Engle 


  1. Kailer Gervacio
  2. Lawakua Inso
  3. Titan Kane

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