Event 1 of the South Island Grom Series saw record entries with 60 groms gathering to the beautiful Tauranga Bay, Westport. A 1.5 metre south west swell rolled into the bay and conditions were well contestable.
The day started with the Under 16 Boys; stands outs were Jai Oakley, scoring an 8.33 on one wave with critical surfing in the pocket. Other surfers looking good and winning their heats were James Millar, Koby Cameron and Luke Rogers. In the Under 16 Girls, surfers to impress were Ava Henderson, Leah Wilson and Misha Peyroux all progressing to the semis. Under 14 Boys were next up with Benji Lowen, Nixon Reardon, Rakiatea Tau and Campbell Heasley all looking to be contenders.
First heat of the Under 18 Boys saw Neko Tohiariki blowing his competitors out of the water with a 17.5 heat score. Also impressing the judges and winning their heats were Jai Oakley and Ruben Peyroux, making it through to the semis.
Under 18 Girls had NZ representative Estella Hungerford taking out her heat ahead of Leah Wilson. Ava Henderson and Eve Findlay also advanced through to the finals.
In Under 12 Boys it was Billy Cameron, Travis Henderson, Sonny Lyons and Benji Lowen all smashing their way to the final. Under 12 Girls surfers to impress were Ana Tau along with Tessa Gabbott, Coco Bentley and Lucy Macefield.
Under 14 Girls saw the Point Surf Team girls dominating with Holly Campbell, Ruby Armstrong and Amelie Wink advancing alongside Misha Peyroux from South Coast making it through to the finals.
Under 16 Boys semi 1 was super close with James Millar and Liam Heasley sneaking ahead of Jai Oakley. Semi 2 saw local lad Jacob Fitzgerald smashing his way to a 1st place finish and making it through to the final alongside Rueben Lyons from Kaikoura Surf Groms.
In the Under 16 girls Ava Henderson performed two powerful backhand re-entries in the pocket and finished with a roundhouse cutback, leaving the judges with no option but to give her a perfect 10. Others to make it through to the final were Amelie Wink, Leah Wilson and Anika Ayson.
Jack McKenzie, fresh off a holiday in Indo, took out the first heat of the Under 14 boys ahead of Nixon Reardon. Tyler Perry from Kaikoura Surf Groms took out semi 2 with some nice backhand snaps and pushing Tom Robertson into second.
Under 18 Boys semi 1 saw the two Dunedin Boys Ruben Peyroux and Luke Rogers making it through to the final. Semi 2 had two Christchurch boys, Jai Oakley and Neko Tohiariki surf their way to the final.
The higher tide made for more favourable conditions and the left handers started peeling though the bay. A decision was made to run the comp in 1 day with 10 hours of surfing.
Under 12 Girls was the first final in the water with all the girls out the back. After winning the South Island Primary School champs last weekend, Ana Tau from the Northside Boardriders club claimed another victory. Tessa Gabbott, Lucy Masefield and Coco Bentley finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
The Under 12 Boys was hotly contested but it was Kaikoura surfer Sonny Lyons, also taking a second victory in 2 weeks, who finished ahead of Billy Cameron, Benji Lowen and Travis Henderson.
Under 14 Girls saw Holly Campbell of the Point Surf Team claim her first victory in the South Island Grom Series ahead of Amelie Wink, Ruby Armstrong and Misha Peyroux.
In the under 14 Boys, Waikuku surfer, Jack McKenzie carried on from where he left off in the semis and dominated the final ahead of Nixon Reardon, Tyler Perry and Tom Robertson.
Under 16 Girls saw Leah Wilson take an early lead but it was Christchurch surfer Ava Henderson who finished the strongest and pushed Wilson back to second. Anika Ayson and Amelie Wink finished 3rd and 4th.
James Millar from the North Wai Boardriders club came out strongly from the start in the Under 14 Boys final and took the win ahead of Rueben Lyons, Liam Heasley and Jacob Fitzgerald.
The Under 18 Girls final saw an outstanding performance by Estella Hungerford. She racked up a heat score of 19 with a series of incredibly powerful backhand re-entries. Ava Henderson came 2nd, Leah Wilson 3rd and Eve Findlay 4th.
The last final of the day was a bit of a fizzer, after the Under 18 Girls, with the lads struggling to position themselves in the line-up. Ruben Peyroux snuck ahead of Jai Oakley, Neko Tohiariki and Luke Rogers. Ruben hooked onto a right hander and popped out his fins to take the win in the dying minutes.
Big ups to all the SISA crew, the parents and groms who all made for a very successful comp. The level of surfing at junior level in the South Island has definitely raised a notch or three. Once again, the Buller Boardriders hospitality was second to none. Good luck to all groms heading up to the nationals in Taranaki. Safe travels and happy Christmas to everyone and we’ll see you all in Dunedin on January 19th for event number 2.
Club points after Event 1
North Wai 24
South Coast 14
Point Surf Team 12
Kaikoura Surf Groms 10