Billabong Grom Series Lines Up Eighth Year of Unearthing New Zealand's Best Young Surfers
The three-event Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge marks it's eighth year of existence in 2012 with another action packed summer of surfing for New Zealand's budding young surfers.
Events will return to their fabled locations now entrenched in groms memories starting at Mount Maunganui (4-5 Feb) before heading to Whangamata (11-12 Feb) then the final event at Piha (10-11 March).
The fun-filled events cater for every surfer from the beginner who is giving competitive surfing a go for the first time to those fanatical groms that have been surfing since they could swim, sometimes prior. Three age brackets for boys and girls are contested from Under 16 through to Under 12 allowing opportunities for all surfers.
The honours board for the three-event series reflects a who's-who of New Zealand surfers with the likes of Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour surfer Paige Hareb (Tara) starting out at these very events. Paige Hareb won the Under 16 Girls Division in 2006 before going on to compete internationally and qualify for the World Tour only two years later.
The likes of Matt Hewitt, Alex Dive, Johnny Hicks and Ben Poulter have all progressed through this series of events and moved on to compete internationally for New Zealand and on the ASP Pro Junior Series. Hewitt most recently placed ninth at a World Pro Junior event in Brazil competing as New Zealand's only surfer.
The talent pool of surfers currently coming through the ranks will hope to tread the same path as their predecessors. Defending Under 16 Boys Champion Dune Kennings (WGM) attempts to become the first surfer to win back-to-back series titles in the premier division.
Speaking after an early morning session at Piha, Kennings packed full of confidence explained why he has a good chance at the title defence. "One of the comps is at my home break of Whangamata and also one Piha which I surf a lot and then the Mount is similar to Whanga so I reckon I have a good chance and I will try my hardest and make it known that I want it" said Kennings.
Despite demonstrating clear ambitions to win, Kennings was also quick to point out the fun lighter side of the events where you get to surf all day long in warm water, catch up with friends from all over the country and go wave-for-wave with your mates. "The comp's aren't in heavy waves either, just fun waves and good fun times with friends" he added.
Kennings will be up against some stiff competition with the likes of Elliot Paerata - Reid (Piha), Korbin Hutchings (Gis), Kehu Butler (Mnt), Manu Scott - Arrieta (Sandy Bay) and Te Rapai Barbarich - Love (Tara) to name but a few who will be surfing to make an impact this summer.
The girls divisions will be hotly contested with a new group of surfers pushing their cause for titles. The Sansom twins Bianca and Gabriela, Dayna Story (Gis), Hannah Kohn (Gis), Milly Crewe and Britt Kindred will all look to fill the void left by the likes of Ella Williams (WGM) and Jayda Martin - Fitzharris (Gis) who move out of the grom events in 2012.
The New Zealand Junior Surfing Team will be named after the first two events of the series and this will add increased pressure on the top surfers who will aim toward selection and competing at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Championship to be held in Panama during April.
The Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge also awards five airfares to Australia and entry into one of Australia's elite events for those that win their respective divisions. "You want to win these New Zealand events regardless of the prizes but this just adds to that desire. Aussie is the next level and that's who you want to surf against and test your performance so for Billabong to give us that chance is amazing" said Kennings.
At the other end of the spectrum will be a large number of budding surfers who will be entering one of their first national surfing events. For these young boys and girls the weekend is also about having fun, learning new surfing skills and meeting other young surfers from around the country. The series is spiced up here too with land based activities and spot prizes added to the mix with wild prizes from Sony, Skinny and others to keep the groms foaming to do their best.
For all entrants, the fun will be loaded into the two days with each competitor walking away with a goody bag filled with sponsors gear and good summer memories.
Set out below are the winners of the six divisions over the past five years.
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 event dates:
Billabong Grom Series pres by Oceanbridge Event 1 - 4th - 5th February, Mount Maunganui
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.