Free won his heat in the first round of the 14 and under event in small but clean conditions at the Honeycombs break before finishing third in the second round, with a top-two finish required to progress to round 3.
Run by WA surfing champion Taj Burrow, Taj’s Small Fries focuses on unearthing junior talent with boys and girls divisions in 12, 14 and 16-year age groups.
Adding to the excitement of the event, Burrow was seen free surfing with the grommets during the January 15 to 17 showdown.
He said he couldn’t have been happier with how the meet, which featured Indonesian and interstate surfers, turned out.
Burrow was particularly upbeat about conditions on the first day, saying the waves were “pumping” and it was “like a little wave pool for the groms”.
Yallingup’s Josh Cattlin and Mandurah’s April McPherson won the 16 and under boys and girls events.
Gracetown’s Jed Gradsien and Red Bluff’s Coral Durant won the 14 and under divisions. Maroubra’s Koda Killorn (NSW) and Margaret River’s Willow Hardy won the 12 and under.