T&C Surf Grom Contest Wrap Up 2023
Queens swarmed with groms for milestone surf comp
Once again, we are beyond stoked to have hosted our 25th annual T&C Grom Contest in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii at Queens Waikiki, a place so dear to our hearts and the heart of surfing. All year long we look forward to these two days of summer where we gather together to celebrate youth in Hawaii surfing. This year 374 groms enjoyed perfect one-to-two foot glassy surf, beach games, tons of prizes and lunch from our presenting sponsor Dukes Waikiki!
Saturday kicked off day one with boys and girls shortboard, longboard, and bodyboard divisions ripping it up on the outside at Queens. The rising swell provided consistent overhead surf for the biggest groms and near double overhead surf for the smallest. Meanwhile on the inside, Baby Queens was firing as parents, uncles, and aunties helped our youngest competitors in the Kokua division catch some waves. The stoke level was high with smiles for miles and a few tears : ). Every competitor in the Kokua division walked away with a first place medal and a goodie back full of swag from sponsors like Dakine, RVCA, Vans, Vertra, and Futures Fins, just to name a few.
The swell filled in and topped out for Sunday, day two of competition with pumping surf all day long. Girls and boys 11-12 year olds divisions took to the lineup first with 9-10 year olds and 6-9 year olds to follow. The six groms per heat would be vying for the top three spots to advance to the next round. With a morning of action-packed heats, the stage was set for an afternoon of finals. But first, we took a moment for a family-favorite intermission, The Freesurf Magazine Expression Session where parents and keiki enjoy an empty lineup at queens and display their best tandem surfing. Keahi and Micah Moniz were catching bomb sets and carving it up all the way to the inside left. Aukaiokamoana and Preston Louis found an inside gem on the right and slid into a mini barrel for two, but it was the aerial maneuvers and coordinated combo of tricks Nicori and Genki Kino displayed that would win over the judges to stand on top of the podium. Way to go Nicori and Genki!
The finals saw plenty of action as the swell topped out in the two foot Hawaiian seas. Rowan Nixon edged out upcoming rippers like Reef Adams and Gian Nakano to take the top spot in the 6-8 year old boys shortboard division. The hotly contested matchup in the 9-10 year old boys shortboard heat was stacked, with Jeremiah Fritz narrowly defeating shredders like River Giles and Kingston Palakiko. Over in the girls division, Kendyl Asato put on a stellar performance and clinched her third consecutive first place medal in her 9-10 year old division. Another standout heat was our 10-12 year old girls longboard division where a four-way tiebreaker was decided on land with an old fashioned jan ken po. It would be Miyu Palmer breaking out of the tie to take third, Sarasa Ishibashi in first and Malayana Schiffner runner-up. The final heat of the day was the most stacked with some of Waikiki’s upcoming talent like Po’i Tomas, Zachariah Smith, and Reef Thatcher Davis. But in the end the footwork of Phoenix Rose would get the victory over an in-form Tama Shimabukuro. The dramatic victory was celebrated upon announcement with a proper chair-up from Waikiki uncles Kaniela Stewart and Ethan Speltz.
We would like to thank the entire team at T&C that put in so much hard work to make this happen, the continued commitment of our sponsors, as well as all the ohana that came out to enjoy a fun-filled weekend. It’s because of the families that this tradition continues. It comes full circle when you see generations who’ve grown up surfing the T&C Grom Contest passing the stoke along to the next generation. One wahine in particular who is currently representing Hawaii on the WSL longboard tour, Kelis Kaleopaa remarks, “I grew doing this contest all the way from the Kokua division until I was like 12, and to see all my nieces and nephews and all the Waikiki groms do this brings back so many good memories for me. Town and Country made the contest so fun and I was able to experience that surfing and competing is fun. You know, it was never serious and with the vibe of everyone supporting you from all the aunties and uncles, even strangers, it’s really cool I get to pass that along now.”
What makes something you love better is sharing it, as T&C founder Craig Sugihara discovered long ago and continues today to find ways to pass that along. He sums it up by saying, “After 25 years the Grom Contest never gets old! The smiles, laughter, and stoke are what continue to drive T&C Surf. Sharing my love for the ocean, surfing, and Hawaii with the kids brings me great joy. It is truly a pleasure to see this wonderful tradition continue on.” T&C Surf Designs President Ryan Sugihara adds, “I’m super stoked to see all the kids and families having fun and just enjoying themselves at our keiki surf contest. The waves were perfect for the groms this past weekend and we were lucky a new swell filled in on Sunday for the finals. The entire staff did an excellent job to facilitate the event for so many families who were so appreciative that we put on this event for Hawaii’s amateur surf community. Thanks again to all our sponsors and to everyone who was involved. Looking forward to next year’s T&C Grom Contest and I am excited to see the next generation of groms out in the water!”