Oz Grom Cup makes Coffs Coast the mecca for young surfers
COFFS Coast surfing icon Lee Winkler is a walking megaphone for the good side of his sport.
The former World tour professional never wastes an opportunity to talk up surfing culture or the finer points of this part of Australia.
So when he says he's excited about the announcement Coffs Harbour will stage one of the biggest events ever created for surfing grommets - he means it.
"When we lost an event that was scheduled for this year, everybody started working for something to replace it," he said.
"That's how the Billabong Oz Grom Cup presented by Kustom came into being.
"Instead of something for us old timers, we pushed for an event for the kids as they are the future.
"Everything will be run along the lines of a major surf competition, right down to the fantastic logo we had made to publicise it Australia-wide."
Beginning on Easter Monday, April 21, the four-day under-18 event for male and female surfers will offer a whopping 11 divisions and be hosted in the best conditions the Coffs Harbour region has to offer.
The competition format will allow each contestant to surf twice, before the highest placed surfers are seeded into a four-person heat format, emulating the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Qualifying Series draws.
Junior surfing is booming across the local region, thanks to an extraordinarily positive image that's been created and promoted by Boardrider clubs.
"It's good, clean fun for the kids and as this event grows it will do big things for surfing and tourism," Winkler said.
"The competition has room for 200 entries and as word spreads, we'll have kids from all over Australia signing up.
"That's why I want the kids from around here to sign on as soon as possible so they don't miss out."
Billabong marketing manager Scott Hargreaves jumped at the sponsorship opportunity and said there's been an explosion of talent who will be right at home on the Coffs Coast.
"Coffs Harbour region is ideal as the area is littered with north and south-facing breaks that cater for a variety of weather and surf conditions," he said.
"The timing of the event allows for families and parents to attend during school holidays."
Two divisions, for the mini superstars-of-tomorrow aged 10 and under, are 'parent assisted'.
Register online at surfingnsw.com.au