Tweed groms ready to blast off
FROM starting out as two-year-olds on the back of their dad's board, two Tweed groms are ready to launch into the next step of their pre-junior careers.
Now talented young surfers, Fingal locals and Kingscliff Boardriders Club members Dane and Guy Henry are Sydney-bound for the 12th annual BL's Blast Off, where they'll rub shoulders with surfing greats.
Founded and run by Australian surfing legend Barton Lynch, the school holiday event is billed as the world's biggest surf festival for pre-juniors.
Dane, 11, will compete as a bottom-age surfer in the under-12s section and is excited about lining up in his third BL Blast Off.
A natural footer who models his surfing on reigning world champion John John Florence and locals Mick Fanning and Bede Durbidge, Dane said learning off Lynch was a great opportunity to fine-tune his technique.
"Being able to surf and learn with Barton in person, I can learn better as he can show it to me and tell me how to do it,” he said.
Unlike most pre-junior competitions, the Blast Off brings together 350 young surfers from Australia and the world for coaching, games and activities.
In a mix of coaching and competition, judges write down notes in opening rounds for feedback, to help young surfers fine tune ahead of standard competition formats on the final day.
Dane, who thrives on competition, is hoping to go one better in 2017 in search of his long-term goals.
"My first year I went out in round two, but last year I got knocked-out in the semi-finals,” he said.
"I want to do well as I want to (eventually) win a junior world title and try and get onto the QS, then the World Tour.”
Guy, 8, also a natural footer, will compete in his first Blast Off in the Parents Assist division.
The BL's Blast Off will be held at Whale Beach from September 26-29. Broken into age and gender categories from 6-14 years, the 2017 version will feature the Hurley Surf Club mobile training program - aimed at offering young surfers free elite coaching usually reserved for professionals.