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Whakatane surfer Luis Southerwood has claimed his maiden victory at a national level after winning the first event of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge held over the weekend (1-2 February).

Tay Street, Mount Maunganui maintained just enough swell to complete the event on Sunday with 0.5m waves pushing the small-wave limits of Southerwood and his opponents in the final.

Up against a star-studded line-up, Southwerwood surfed to a 9.4 point heat total to take the win.

“I am so happy, unfortunately, the waves weren’t there but it was such a sick final with all the boys and it was so nerve-racking the whole time” commented Southerwood who led the final from start to finish.

In the final two minutes, eventual runner up Tom Butland (Tara) found his way on to a nice wave which gave him the chance to win but he fell just short of the required 5.5 point ride, much to Southerwood’s delight.

“I was really, really scared but I knew with that wave Tom got was a little smaller but any single wave someone caught out there today scared the living daylights out of me.”

It has been a drawn-out journey for the 17-year-old Whakatane surfer who talked about only ever making one heat when he started competing in the Under 14s.  Then he made one final during his time in the Under 16 Boys Division and now he has gone on to win his first Billabong Grom Series event which he shared with good friend Jack Lee who finished third today.

Tom Butland held on for the runner up finish with Lee in third and Muriwai surfer Taylor O’Leary making back-to-back finals finishing fourth.

Georgia Wederell (Mnt) won the Under 18 Girls Division in a head-to-head battle with Estella Hungerford (Chch).  Wederell got the upper hand surfing to a 7.44 point heat total out of 20 compared with Hungerford’s 5.8 points.  Combined with her runner-up finish at the National Championships, the Mount Maunganui surfer now leads the rankings going into the third event of the year at Whangamata this weekend.

Amarnie Barber (Aus) won the Under 16 Girls Division in a tight final with just over a point separating the four finalists.  Barber looked strong all weekend going for big turns when the waves allowed.  Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara) finished 0.07 behind Barber in second place, getting the jump on Liv Haysom (Piha) in third and local surfer Anna Brock in fourth.

Raglan’s Kora Cooper went one better than that National Championships to take a win in the Under 16 Boys Division defeating good friend Jayden Willoughby by just over a point.  Whangarei surfer Te Kauwhata Kauwhata finished in third in his first finals appearance at this level while Raglan’s third finalists, Navryn Malone, finished in fourth.

The Under 14 Divisions were won by Tao Mouldey (Mnt) and Leia Millar (Piha).  For Mouldey, it was a step up from his runner up finish at the National Championships and he takes the lead on the New Zealand Grom Series.  It was Millar’s first event of the year and she will head into the Whangamata event with a boost of confidence looking to climb the rankings further as the year progresses.

Please see below for final results from the first event of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge held at Tay Street Mount Maunganui (1-2 February).

Under 18 Boys Division Final
Luis Southerwood (Whaka), 9.4, 1, Tom Butland (Tara), 8.0, 2, Jack Lee (Whaka), 6.07, 3, Taylor O’Leary (Mur), 5.46, 4

Under 18 Girls Division Final
Georgia Wederell (Mnt), 7.44), 1, Estella Hungerford (Chch), 5.8, 2

Under 16 Boys Division Final
Kora Cooper (Rag), 10.87, 1, Jayden Willoughby (Rag), 9.8, 2, Te Kauwhata Kauwhata (Whngrei), 8.16, 3, Navryn Malone (Rag), 3.74, 4

Under 16 Girls Division Final
Amarnie Barber (AUS), 7.0, 1, Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara), 6.93, 2, Liv Haysom (Piha), 6.5, 3, Anna Brock (Mnt), 5.8, 4

Under 14 Boys Division Final
Tao Mouldey (Mnt), 11.03, 1, Indica Corcoran (Mnt), 9.17, 2, Tyler Stenzel (Mnt), 8.63, 3, Dale Cromhout (HBay), 6.4, 4

Under 14 Girls Division Final
Leia Millar (Piha), 1, Chloe Groube (Pau), 6.8, 2, Amanda Gouldsbury (Tara), 4.57, 3, Ariana Walker (Mnt), 2.94, 4

Entry into the two remaining Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge events can be completed here:

Event 2 – 8 – 9 February, Whangamata
Event 3 – 22 – 23 February, Piha Beach, Auckland

Further Information
For further information on the 2020 Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.

Imagery
Web clips will be distributed free of charge from each event.  Please contact Ben Kennings for further details.

High resolution action images of the surfing at all events on the Billabong Grom Series will be available to media free of charge.

Event Hotline
The Surfing New Zealand event hotline is 0211134506.  This will be updated daily at approximately 7am with venue, divisions contested and conditions for the day.

Partners
Generous support from Billabong, presenting sponsors Oceanbridge, Kustom and Dakine has made this series possible.

Thanks to Bay Boardriders for hosting the event.

Follow the event
Follow the action via social media @billabong on Instagram and @surfingnz across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.  Follow the series hashtag – #BillabongGromSeries.

Surfing New Zealand is proudly partnered by:

Sport NZ
SunSmart
Water Safety NZ

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