Groms to Vie for Australian Surf Trips New Zealand's best young surfers head to the final event of the Billabong Grom Series pres by Oceanbridge at Piha this weekend (10-11 March) to see if they can beat their friends and win the chance to go and surf in Australia.
Five trips to Australia go up for grabs this weekend, giving five lucky young groms the chance to go and compete against Australia's top young surfers at Occy's Grom Comp to be held on the Gold Coast in July.
For the last seven years Piha has been the venue for the final of the three event series. The wave has always challenged the young surfers who have encountered all types of conditions from perfect waves through to massive stormy conditions. This weekend is set to see some great surfing with a small swell and light offshore winds.
The conditions will suit the surfers heading to Piha who are all under the age of 16 and some in the younger age groups that are under 10 years old.
At the fore front and leading the way for the 'seniors' of the event is local surfer Elliot Paerata - Reid who has been unstoppable this year. Paerata - Reid is one of only two surfers who have claimed victory at both of the first two events of the series, the other being Kehu Butler (Mnt) in the Under 12 Boys Division. Paerata - Reid however, has done this in exceptional fashion surfing to classy last minute wins in both finals. He has shown the type of tenacious character required for the tough Australian competitive environment. Should he take his chances on Sunday and win the ticket to Australia, his attitude toward competing will have his in good stead against his Australian counterparts. To win the series here in New Zealand he will need to place third or better in the final to stave off the likes of Dune Kennings (WGM) and Jordan Griffin (Mnt).
As always, these summer months unearth a lot of new talent and we have seen this come through at the first two events this year. Jordan Griffin (Mnt) has shown great form that has seen him be named in the New Zealand Junior Surfing Team. The likes of Joe Palmer (Kerikeri), Matt McGreggor (Whangarei) and Caleb Braithwaite (Whakatane) have all put in great performances that have seen them challenge New Zealand's top young surfers as well. This weekend could provide these surfers their first opportunity at cracking a finals berth.
Likewise in the girls, stand out performances from emerging surfers have come from Jasmine Smith (Gis) who actually went on to win the second event of the series and is now challenging for the trip to Australia in the Under 16 Girls Division. Smith is in a two horse race with Gabriela Sansom (Auck), both surfers having a first and a second placing each. The highest placed surfer out of the two this weekend will be awarded the trip to Australia.
The tightest battle of the weekend will be played out in the Under 14 Boys Division where the top three surfers have a realistic chance of taking out the series. Kehu Butler leads the way and will be ranked number one but Taranaki surfer Isaac Kettle has taken it to his opponents this summer and his go-for-broke attitude saw him win the second event of the series at Whangamata. Another big performance from Kettle could see him claim a well deserved series win. Currently sitting in third place is Manu Scott - Arrieta (Sandy Bay). Scott - Arrieta won the National Champs held at the same Piha venue in January so knows the break well and he will be looking for his first win of the series after placings of second and third at the first two events.
Muriwai surfer Milly Crewe holds down the lead in the Under 14 Girls and will be hard pressed to beat while Mount Maunganui surfers Kehu Butler and Elin Tawharu are front runners in the Under 12 Divisions.
As well as the battle for the titles, many surfers will simply be out to give competition a go, have fun at the beach and meet surfers from around New Zealand over the two day competition. Action starts at 8:00am each day and runs through until 4:00pm. All finals will be held on Sunday when the winners of the series will also be crowned.
Set out below are the top five surfers from each of the six categories contested in the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge. Under 16 Boys Top 5 1, Elliot Paerata - Reid (Piha) 2, Dune Kennings (Whmata) 3, Jordan Griffin (Mnt) 4, McKenzie Bowden (Whmata) 5, Mahorahora McLeod (Waitara)
Under 14 Boys Top 5 1, Kehu Butler (Arataki) 2, Isaac Kettle (Tara) 3, Manu Scott-Arrieta (Sandy Bay) 4, Daniel Farr (Tara) 5, Tane Bowden (Whmata)
Under 12 Boys Top 5 1, Kehu Butler (Arataki) 2, Tane Bowden (Whmata) 3, Jared Gebert (Ohope) 4, Lee Ririnui (Mnt) 5, William Barnes (Mt)
Under 16 Girls Top 5 1, Gabriella Sansom (Auck) 1, Jasmine Smith (Gis) 3, Claudia Fraser (Auck) 3, Dayna Story (Gis) 3, Bianca Sansom (Auck)
Under 14 Girls Top 5 1, Milly Crewe (Muri) 2, Raiha Ensor (Mnt) 2, Britt Kindred (Muri) 4, Jenny Rockwell (Auck) 5, Maaia Reid-Bennett (Arataki)
Under 12 Girls Top 5 1, Elin Tawharu (Mnt) 2, Kea Smith (Tau) 3, Iritana Butler (Arataki) 4, Tiana - Breeze de Mooij (Mnt) 5, Amber Bailey (Auck)