It was back to the beach for the groms on the first day of the final Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge event being held at Piha today (Saturday 10th March). The small clean swell forced a move north of Lion Rock with the set up located down the beach for a fun day of action in and out of the water.
Despite the less than 1.0m conditions, the groms were throwing tail all day notching up big scores. Dune Kennings (WGM) was one of the top performers of the day winning his early morning heat in the Under 16 Boys Division scoring 14.67 out of 20 points.
Kennings is holding on to slim hopes of winning the series after Elliot Paerata - Reid (Piha) won the first two events extending a big gap between himself and his opponents.
"It is going to be hard (to win), I have to win the event and he will have to come fourth at best so it is a big ask but we will see tomorrow" said Kennings of his chances well aware how a trip to Australia that is on the line can improve your surfing.
"I haven't quite secured a win in the Billabong Grom events this summer and I really want to win one. If I catch the biggest and best waves then I will be able to do that."
Ratings leader Paerata - Reid also won his heat scoring 13.90 points in a solid performance. Paerata - Reid's fellow New Zealand Junior Surfing Team members Jordan Griffin (BOP) and Harrison Whiteside (Chch) found themselves in the same first round heat. A good tussle ensued with Griffin getting the nod over Whiteside in a low scoring battle.
Other surfers that impressed included Taylor Hutchison (Rag), McKenzie Bowden (WGM) and Bryn Marshall (Ohope).
Kehu Butler lifted the level of his surfing yet again in the Under 12 Boys Division. In his heat, Butler pulled off a big air reverse on the shore dump, emerging from the whitewash with an emphatic claim.
"I was trying them this morning and I wasn't really making them but I went out in my heat and thought I might as well try the move again" said an almost surprised Butler.
"I was pretty stoked 'cos I have never really done one in a comp before. It has given me heaps of confidence for tomorrow" Butler added as he looks toward securing a trip to Australia to compete against some of the best young surfers in the world.
Butler's air reverse scored a near perfect 9.67 point ride which combined with his second scoring ride for a 16.5 point heat total.
Also starring in the Under 12 Boys were Tane Bowden (WGM) and Jared Gerbert (Ohope) who both won their heats to move through to the semifinals where they will meet each other in an attempt to move through to the finals.
The younger two girls divisions, Under 14s and Under 12s had fun over the full tide surfing some screamers that also had the waters-edge crowd in applause. Young local girl Gabriella Paul ripped it up to win her heat in the Under 12s and move through to the semifinals. Paul scored 12.43 points in her heat, the highest of the round with Mount Maunganui's Kea Smith close behind scoring 12.33 points to win her heat. Coincidentally, the two surfers will meet each other in the second semifinal to be contested on Sunday morning.
Number one ranked Under 14 Girls surfer Milly Crewe (Mur) charged forward in her heat with an easy win to advance her chances of winning the division and trip to Australia. Other winners in the round included fellow Muriwai surfer Britt Kindred and Gisborne's Abby Falwasser - Logan.
The conditions are expected to remain small on Sunday with the wind swinging to the north. Action will start at 8:00am again with all finals being completed by 2:00pm. Prize giving will be held at the beach after the finals.
Set out below are the results from day one of the final Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge held at Piha Beach today (Saturday 10th March).
Under 16 Boys Round 1
Caleb Braithwaite (Whtane), 8.83, 1, Joe Palmer (Kerikeri), 6.37, 2, Isaac Mennie (Auck), 4.17, 3, Blake Haven (Murwai), 3.2, 4
Bryn Marshall (Ohope), 8.97, 1, Ryan Renall (Mangawhai), 8.27, 2, Matt McGreggor (Whngrei), 6.5, 3, Jack Wilson (ChCh), 6.43, 4
Quin Matenga (Mnt), 8, 1, Mitch Kent (Auck), 7.73, 2, Adam Clegg (Tara), 7.4, 3, Joseph Parr (Coro), 3.43, 4
Elliot Paerata - Reid (Piha), 13.87, 1, Daniel Farr (Tara), 10.93, 2, Jack Mills (BOP), 8.9, 3, Riccardo Lucibella (Tara), 6.5, 4
Dune Kennings (Whmata), 14.67, 1, Callum Chuter (Tau), 4.77, 2, Josh Farr (Tara), 4.23, 3, Campbell Ivory (Tairua), 2.83, 4
Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 11.2, 1, Matt Hansen (Mnt), 9.47, 2, Mahorahora McLeod (Waitara), 7.4, 3, Zane Hicks (Ocean Beach), 2.7, 4
McKenzie Bowden (Whmata), 8.2, 1, Max Marshall (Chch) , 7.13, 2, Isaac Kettle (Tara), 7.1, 3, Toa Macdonald (Waitara), 7, 4
Jordan Griffin (Mnt), 8.03, 1, Harrison Whiteside (ChCh), 7.17, 2, Tom Mason (Auck), 6.7, 3, Blake O'Kane (Papamoa), 4.03, 4
Under 12 Boys Round 1
Jared Gebert (Ohope), 8.67, 1, Shane Kraus (Piha), 8.6, 2, James Ririnui (Mnt), 6.23, 3, Henry Copley (Piha), 4.47, 4
Kehu Butler (Arataki), 16.5, 1, William Barnes (Mt), 6.73, 2, Sam Copley (Piha), 4.97, 3, Taylor O'Leary (Muriwai), 3.87, 4
Tane Bowden (Whmata), 7.53, 1, Lee Ririnui (Mnt), 5.63, 2, Kelly Haven (Mur), 5.27, 3, Connor Seaman (Auck), 2.7, 4
Under 14 Boys Round of 28
Reef Matthews (Waitara), 7.8, 1, Kalani Hansen (Ahipara), 7.33, 2, Braedon Louie (Piha), 4.07, 3, Sam Morgan (Auck), 3.4, 4
Kehu Butler (Mnt), 13.43, 1, Manu Scott-Arrieta (Sandy Bay), 9, 2, Lewis Mennie (Auck), 3.77, 3, Lloyd Pownall (Auck), 2.33, 4
Under 14 Girls Round 1
Britt Kindred (Muri), 7.73, 1, Jenny Rockwell (Auck), 5.97, 2, Tiana Breeze De Mooj (Mnt), 5.5, 3, Asha Skidmore (Piha), 1.8, 4
Milly Crewe (Muri), 7.77, 1, Elin Tawharu (Mnt), 6.63, 2, Treyarn Barbarich (Arataki), 2.8, 3, Jana O'Connor (Tara), 0.73, 4
Abby Falwasser-Logan (Gis), 7.1, 1, Maaia Reid-Bennett (Arataki), 5.8, 2, Raiha Ensor (Mnt), 4.97, 3, Kea Smith (Mnt), 4.17, 4
Under 12 Girls Round 1
Gabrielle Paul (Auck), 12.43, 1, Zhana Hutchieson (Waitara), 8.83, 2, Tiana - Breeze de Mooij (Mnt), 6.83, 3, Liv Redman (Auck), 2.47, 4
Elin Tawharu (Mnt), 8.83, 1, Lucy Pownall (Piha), 3.63, 2, Amber Bailey (Auck), 2.7, 3
Kea Smith (Tau), 12.33, 1, Holly Marson-Wood (Piha), 4.23, 2, Iritana Butler (Arataki), 4.07, 3, Kristen Fraser (Piha), 3.37, 4