The waiting game is finally coming to an end for New Zealand's youngest surfers who get the chance to compete in the first event of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge at Mount Maunganui this weekend (4-5 February).
The swell is forecast to increase leading into and throughout the weekend providing the perfect platform for the groms to let rip at Tay Street.
The Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge will bring together close to eighty surfers from both the North and South Island for two action packed days of surfing in the first of three events to be held this summer.
The strength of the Bay of Plenty Region is looking ominous for the rest of the travelling surfers heading to the event. The Bay of Plenty region fills the ranks in the younger Under 14 and Under 12 Divisions with several star studded surfers already coming to the fore over the summer months.
Kehu Butler (Arataki) is one surfer that continues to impress and surfing at home this weekend he will be looking for big results to kick off the series. Butler finished the National Champs runner up to Sandy Bay surfer Manu Scott - Arrieta with the two youngest finalists in the event going wave for wave in one of the closest finals of the event.
Butler will compete alongside his younger sister Iritana Butler who will contest the Grom Series for the first time. In a full family affair, they will be joined by their Cousin Maaia Reid - Bennett who is also from Mount Maunganui. The three youngsters lead a strong group of Bay surfers showing the growth of the sport in the region.
In the Under 16 Boys Division, locals Jordan Griffin, Quin Matenga and Kayden Mayes will have their work cut out for them with 'seniors' of the grom events such as defending series champion Dune Kennings (WGM) and Elliot Paerata - Reid (Piha) along with winner of the Under 14 Boys Division in 2011 Harrison Whiteside (Chch), McKenzie Bowden (WGM) and a throng of Taranaki groms all keen to make their presence felt at the start of the series.
In the Under 16 Girls Division, the Sansom twins Gabriela and Bianca of Albany will face off against Gisborne girls Jasmine Smith and Dayna Story, all four surfers part of the New Zealand Junior Squad.
The New Zealand Junior Surfing Team is being named after the second event of the series and this will add increased pressure on the top surfers who will aim toward selection and a chance to compete at the Da Kine International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Championship to be held in Panama during April.
The national squad has already met once this summer with a further two-day camp taking place at Mount Maunganui after this event.
The Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge also awards five surfers airfares to Australia and entry into one of Australia's elite events for those that win their respective divisions.
The Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge encompasses crazy land based activities like the blow up slippery soccer pitch and horizontal bungy to keep everyone amused. There will be spot prizes added to the mix with wild giveaways from Sony, Skinny and others to keep the groms foaming to do their best.
Set out below are the winners of the six divisions over the past five years. Who will get the best start to 2012 and a chance to get their name on the honours board.
Under 16 Boys
2007 - Matt Hewitt (Mnt)
2008 - Alex Dive (Mnt)
2009 - Ben Poulter (Rag)
2010 - Adam Grimson (Gis)
2011 - Dune Kennings (WGM)
Under 14 Boys
2007 - Tane Wallis (Piha)
2008 - Tane Wallis (Piha)
2009 - Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata)
2010 - Dune Kennings (WGM)
2011 - Quin Matenga (Mnt)
Under 12 Boys
2007 - Peri Matenga (Mnt)
2008 - Elliot Paerata Reid (Piha)
2009 - Korbin Hutchings (Gis)
2010 - Manu Scott - Arrieta (Sandy Bay)
2011 - Kehu Butler (Mnt)
Under 16 Girls
2007 - Rosa Thompson (Auck)
2008 - Alexis Poulter (Rag)
2009 - Grace Spiers (WGM)
2010 - Ella Williams (WGM)
2011 - Ella Williams (WGM)
Under 14 Girls
2007 - Alexis Poulter (Rag)
2008 - Ella Williams (WGM)
2009 - Ella Williams (WGM)
2010 - Gabriela Sansom (Auck)
2011 - Dayna Story (Gis)
Under 12 Girls
2007 - Ella Spiers (WGM)
2008 - Gabriela Sansom (WGM)
2009 - Dayna Story (Gis)
2010 - Milly Crewe (Mur)
2011 - Gabrielle Paul (Piha)
Please see below for dates of the final two events:
Billabong Grom Series pres by Oceanbridge Event 2 - 11th - 12th February, Whangamata
Billabong Grom Series pres by Oceanbridge Event 3 - 10th - 11th March, Piha Beach, Auckland
Entry into the events can be completed at Surfing New Zealand under events.