New Zealand Surfing - - Rising / Grom -

There’s a lot to be said for get­ting an early start un­der ex­pe­ri­enced guid­ance when it comes to be­gin­ning to surf. Liv­ing near the ocean with con­sis­tent surf to de­velop in can be an­other mas­sive en­hanc­ing fac­tor, then there is the ob­vi­ous fac­tor of ge­net­ics that seem to favour cer­tain sports. While our lat­est ris­ing grom, Westen Hirst, has grown up around the ocean since birth and rubbed shoulders con­stantly with great surfers, there is an ob­vi­ous ge­netic pass on that has seen his surf­ing de­velop faster and more tech­ni­cally than any of the other groms which have grown up in the same en­vi­ron­ment. You see Westen’s dad is none other than Troy Hirst who was for years our youngest ever Na­tional Cham­pion win­ning the ti­tle in 1993. Through his NZ Team ex­ploits, rep­re­sent­ing at the World Grom­met Ti­tles in the early 90’s, Troy fell in love with Indo, trav­elled there for years and then met and mar­ried his now wife and a few years later Westen was wel­comed into the world. Troy is based in In­done­sia man­ag­ing a surf­board fac­tory, and these days spends his spare time nur­tur­ing his son’s devel­op­ment and shar­ing the stoke of surf­ing. But as they say, ‘The ap­ple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ Westen, as his old boy did, is bust­ing down the doors as a grom, and turn­ing heads in ev­ery lineup he rides. Look out for this kid cause he’s go­ing places!

Name: Westen Sul­han Hirst Age: 8 years old. Where are you from? Muri­wai beach, Auck­land. But I have lived in In­done­sia since I was 9 months old, my mum is from Lakey Peak, Sum­bawa. School? Widi­at­mika, Jimbaran, Bali. How did your first surf­ing ex­pe­ri­ence come

about ? When and who with? I first started surf­ing in Lakey Peak beach break with my friends we used to play around swim­ming and div­ing on the inside break at Lakey Beach. I was about 3 1/2 years old, my dad made me a board that was the front end of a mini-mal, it was about 3ft long and very easy to stand on, my favourite move

was to do su­per­man dives off it into the waves. Tell us about the lo­cal surf con­di­tions, how of­ten you get to surf and where are your fa

vourite lo­cal breaks? I live in Jimbaran, Bali, so there are so many choices of waves from beaches to reef breaks, I love them all. But I guess I surf the beaches mostly, like Half­way and Padma in Kuta, they are the clos­est to my house to get to af­ter school. I surf all week­end with my dad and prob­a­bly about three days a week af­ter school, my mum likes to play beach vol­ley­ball so we go to the beach quite a lot. My favourite break in Bali is Uluwatu, there's so many good sec­tions to hit or get bar­relled on. But the best waves are from

my other home Lakey Peak and Lakey Pipe in Sum­bawa, I love to surf them with my friends. Your dad was the New Zealand Cham­pion and rep­re­sented his home coun­try New Zealand, you are lucky that you will have two coun­tries that should you reach the po­si­tion of be­ing

able to rep­re­sent which will you choose? I don't know but at the mo­ment I only have a New Zealand pass­port so I wanna come back and do the NZ Na­tion­als when I’m a bit older. But In­done­sia is my home at the mo­ment, I don't know I’m too young to know yet, maybe I can do both, haha. You got to come to New Zealand last sum-

mer and spend some time at your dad’s home break Muri­wai/Maori Bay what did you think of those places and NZ in gen­eral? The waves are fun, but cold for me, lucky Rip Curl gave me a re­ally good wet­suit. The first time I surfed I couldn't feel my ears, and it was re­ally hard to get out the back, there was so much duck div­ing, but the waves were fun to surf. I like NZ and I al­ways have so much fun with my cousin and the food is re­ally good. I wanna go surf where there's lots of long lefts like Raglan and Whanga­mata, my fam­ily live there so maybe next time I can visit them and surf there. Not only have you had dad to in­spire you but in the vil­lage of Lakey Peak there are also many amaz­ing lo­cal surfers and also all the visit­ing surfers, who in­spires you the most and why? This year Ma­son Ho was at Lakey and he is crazy, he can do ev­ery­thing, bar­rels, airs, and he is very funny, he was so nice to all us groms I like his surf­ing. I also met Gabriel Me­d­ina and went surf­ing with him he was amaz­ing, so fast and do­ing the big­gest airs and he is a goofy also, I re­ally wanna surf like him. My un­cle Dedi Gun and Oney An­war when they are at Lakey, they al­ways push us and tell us how to get bet­ter. Bron­son Meydi my good friend is so good, he is the best grom in Indo, the lo­cal Lakey groms are all good they are all get­ting to be re­ally good bar­rel rid­ers, that's the first thing you learn to do at Lakey. My friends Luky, Afrizal and Gi­lang we all push each other to get deeper bar­rels it's fun. You’re only 8 years old and you have been charg­ing reef breaks for a few years now, how do you feel on the big days surf­ing over shal­low reef? It’s okay I’m not re­ally wor­ried about the bot­tom, more of the big waves. It's okay up to about 6ft but then I’m scared I’m gonna get smashed, I like it when it’s 4-5 ft it’s good. What else do you get up to when not surf­ing? I love to go skat­ing. Bali has so many good skate parks and bowls. And I also like fly­ing kites, me and my friends are mak­ing a 3-me­ter-long kite at the


mo­ment, it’s good to fly them close by my house, I also play foot­ball and are start­ing to do Karate.

Who do you surf with most? I have many dif­fer­ent surf friends here, it de­pends on what beach we go to but I surf mostly with my un­cle Putu and Bron­son Meydi, he is from Lakey to but lives in Bali. Also Varun Tund­jung, Dhanny & Dhea Wid­ianto, Ta­nia Izquierdo, Cinta Hansel, Ten­shi Ishii, Ryuki Wi­ada, Ke­tut Agus. There's lots of kids in the Kuta area, we all surf to­gether and then play on the beach.

What does surf­ing mean to you? Surf­ing is so much fun I love to get bar­relled and have fun with my friends at the beach, we are al­ways happy. Where would you like to take your surf­ing? I wanna be a pro like Me­d­ina and John John if I'm good enough, we will see. Your best surf com­pe­ti­tion achieve­ments so far? This year I have won two U12 Rip Curl Grom search events. Life's high­lights? Just grow­ing up in Bali, it’s so much fun I love it! Surf­ing with my friends, we al­ways have the best time. Your favourite surf breaks and why? That's easy Lakey Pipe it's the best to get back­door bar­rels and all the groms take it over. We all yell at each other af­ter bar­rels and just have fun, we ac­tu­ally made some lit­tle club rooms on the beach from drift wood and we hang out there and surf all day. Ever surfed over­seas? and where? I have only surfed at Maori bay and Muri­wai in New Zealand but we stopped in at Aus­tralia and surfed at Cur­rumbin Al­ley and Palm Beach. I wanna travel lots more in the fu­ture. Your dream surf trip? To go to Hawaii and surf Pipe­line and school hol­i­days surf­ing at Lakey Peak.

Shout outs to your big­gest sup­port­ers: Thanks Mum and Dad you are the best! And to Rip Curl Asia, Carve Sun­glasses, PSI Surf­boards, Sun­zap­per Sun­screen and Life On The Juice, they re­ally sup­port me I am so thank­ful to them all. Fol­low me on In­sta­gram: west­en_hirst

What were you do­ing at 8 years old? Not haul­ing off the bot­tom of an eight foot wave over ra­zor sharp live co­ral I bet!

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