Published on October 29th, 2017 | by nowhere man
Rising Grom 177
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 favourite 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 summer 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.
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
Photo caption: 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!