Wellington Winds Up to Host Rip Curl GromSearch
New Zealand’s Rip Curl GromSearch makes a foray in to uncharted waters this weekend when it heads to Wellington for the first time in the series’ five year history. The event caters for the best surfers under the age of sixteen and spans six divisions catering for both boys and girls. Being the third of four events in the series, this is a pivotal time for the top surfers who are vying for a place in the national final – the winner of that heading on to the international final held at the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach Australia in April 2008. The event will also cater for many young Wellington surfers who have not seen a national event of this type on their shores.
Some of New Zealand’s top young surfers have returned from overseas to compete at the event while others have been busy attending training camps gearing up for the competition. Piha’s Ryan Hawker is one to return from Australia where he has found some great form on the Australasian Pro Junior Series competing against surfers up to four years his senior. Hawker is the third highest placed Kiwi on the Australasian Pro Junior Series behind Richard Christie and Tim O’Connor. If Hawker brings back his Australian form it will be an ominous sign for his counterparts as he looks to secure his spot at the national final.
Johnny Hicks (Gis), Blake Myers (WGM), Matt Hewitt (Mnt) and Todd Doyle (Mnt) have all been based in Raglan this week training with New Zealand Junior Surfing Team coach and Raglan Surfing Academy instructor Larry Fisher. These four surfers have no doubt honed their competitive skills throughout the week in the lead up to the event and will press for an event win and invitation to the national final. Hicks sealed his invitation to the national final with a win at the second event but Myers and Hewitt will be two surfers eager to chase down a win this weekend. Taranaki’s Tyler Anderson won the first event of the Rip Curl GromSearch, however Anderson along with a number of top junior surfers from around the country are using their school holidays to tour Indonesia and will be absent from the event.
The girls divisions will be spearheaded by thirteen year old Auckland surfer Rosa Thompson. With the absence of Alexis Poulter (Rag) who is competing in Australia, Grace Spiers (WGM) who is injured and winner of the last event India Wray-Murane (Mur), Thompson is the odds on favourite to secure a place in the national final for the under 16 girls division. Thompson will also contest the under 14 girls division where she is currently ranked second behind Alexis Poulter who has an unassailable lead.
In the under 14 boys division Tane Wallis (Piha) will look to take out another title making it five out of seven for the year in his age group. However current number two ranked surfer Ben Poulter (Rag) will be fresh back from Australia and the winner of the last event, Todd Doyle (Mnt), will be coming off a two days of coaching and together they will hope to upset the front runner Wallis. The under 12 boys division is fast becoming a two horse race with Peri Matenga (Mnt) and Kahu Craig Te Ranga (Waihi Beach) fighting it out for the Rip Curl GromSearch win. With Matenga absent from this weekend’s event, a win by Te Ranga will see him jump into the lead. However the ratings tell a good tale with no surfer having won more than one event over five events this year stacking the odds against Te Ranga. Te Ranga won the first Rip Curl GromSearch in Gisborne and Paul Morretti (Mimiwhangata) won the second held in Taranaki.
Swell forecasts show a diminishing swell at Lyall Bay, the preferred venue for the third event of the Rip Curl GromSearch. If conditions permit, the event will go ahead at Lyall Bay but the approaching weather system coming out of the Tasman suggests more favourable conditions at Titahi Bay. At this stage event organisers are confident that a major relocation to the Wairarapa Coast will not be necessary.
Source: Surfing New Zealand
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