Angourie surfer lands breakthrough in Western Australia
THE classic underdog tale of a competitor rising from nowhere to claim victory fits the story of pint-sized surfer Dakoda Walters perfectly.
Eleven-year-old Walters travelled to Trigg Beach in Perth to compete in the Rip Curl GromSearch 12 and under competition.
The relatively unknown Yamba Public School student shocked everyone when he came from nowhere to claim victory in the final over Lennox Head's Mikey McDonagh.
It ended up being the trip of a lifetime for Dakoda, which his dad Jeremy Walters said they only went over to "have a look".
"It was a great trip but we set out just to give Dakoda a bit of a look," Walters said.
"WA gets a lot of swell and it's usually broken by Rottnest Island, but we had pretty good conditions over the two days."
Dakoda started the event seeded 11th, but a massive score in his first round heat saw him elevated to second when the draw was reseeded after two rounds.
He seemed to improve as the day continued, and before long found himself in the final four with McDonagh, Marmion's Josh Cattlin and Ben Gradison from Margaret River.
Walters said he was proud of how Dakoda dealt with the pressure of success, and paid a lot of credit to the "super coaching" of Angourie's Jeames Young.
Young, 15, was given a Surfing Australia Scholarship, bowed out in the semi-finals of the under-16's division.
"Dakoda usually gets a bit daunted in competitions, but he performed a whole lot better this time around," Walters said.
"After Jeames was eliminated from his contests he turned supercoach for Dakoda and talked him through everything.
"I think that having a mate who had a lot of experience in those type of situations helped him a lot."
In the final, Dakoda registered two solid scores before any of the other surfers had caught a wave.
Sitting in first, he had a nervous final few minutes of the contest as McDonagh had the chance to snatch victory.
"Mikey had a chance with the final wave - which happened to be the biggest of the final as well," Walters said.
"He performed two solid waves in his run and needed at least 7.33 to steal Dakoda's lead. Luckily for us the judges awarded him a 7.1 and Dakoda won."
It was a great result for the Year 5 student, who has only surfed with the Angourite Boardriders for the past "two to three" years.
"They've taken the time to teach him a lot for his competitions," Walters said.
"He's mainly competed in events run by Angourie boardriders but he's been in two to three events outside of them.
"The main thing is that he enjoys himself while he's out there."