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New Zealand's Billabong Grom Series kicks off at Mt Maunganui

Elliot Brown © InTheDrink




Billabong Grom Series

Surfing New Zealand
Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
30 - 31 January 2016

Fresh Faces Shine at the Billabong Grom Series

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 30 January, 2016 - The new year has seen a fresh wave of young groms step up to the competitive arena at the first event of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge held at Tay Street, Mount Maunganui today (Saturday 30th January).

Day one of the event produced clean waves up to 1.0m with light variable winds in the morning and offshores in the afternoon. Conditions were perfect for the grommets including the youngest of the pack in the Under 14 Boys Division.

Gisborne’s Finn Johnson stunned his opponents with a 17.0 point heat total out of a possible 20 points.  The natural-foot surfer picked off two of the best waves of the day for his massive heat total.

“Yeah pretty happy with how I went.  I felt like I was surfing well because the waves were fun” said the 13-year-old. 

“If your first turn is good then you get confidence for the rest of the wave and that was what happened to me out there today” he said adding “Finn Vette ripped and so did Riaka (Ruru) earlier today.”

Whakatane’s Jack Lee was impressive in his Under 14 Boys Division heat surfing to a 10.93 point total as were the two Jai’s, Mount Maunganui’s Jai Parr with a 12.17 point total and one of the youngest competitors in the event, 11 year old Jai Wallis (Piha) who won his low scoring match up.

Joining the fresh faces were all the top seeds including National Champion Thomas Robinson (Whangarei), Tom Butland (Tara), James Ririnui (Mnt) and Josef Jungwirth (Gis) who all took heat wins to move through to the quarterfinals.

The Under 17 Boys Division was dominated by a strong contingent of Bay of Plenty surfers who took five of eight wins in the first round.  New Zealand representative Jonas Tahwharu led the way with a 15.57 point heat total. 

Tawharu was joined by the smooth surfing Jared Gebert of Ohope who took apart the reforming right-handers posting a 15.60 point heat total.  Young Luke Griffin was competing in the Under 17 Boys Division for the first time this year and that was no deterrent for him as he went on to win his heat against surfers three years his senior. 

Other winners in the Under 17 Boys Division that are from the Bay region included Thomas Carter (Waihi Beach) and Lee Ririnui (Mnt).

The Under 20 Boys kicked off the day utilising the clean morning conditions.  Kerikeri surfer Joe Palmer and Tauranga’s Callum Chuter both posted 16.0 point heat totals.  Both are goofy foot surfers and took a liking to the left hand rip bowl in front of the competition site, hitting clean lips and flying across fast sections through to the inside shore dump.  Palmer and Chuter missed the National Championships held in Dunedin earlier this month so will be looking to make up for their absence at that event.

2015 Under 20s Champion Taylor Hutchison (Rag) continued where he left off last year with a comprehensive heat win to move through to the semifinals alongside fellow New Zealand representative Manu Scott – Arrieta (Sandy Bay).

50 young girls took part in the Billabong Girls Get Out There Day surf and yoga lessons with coaches and a guest appearance from Jamie McDell who delighted all the attendees.

Ben Kennings

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