Nationwide Entries For The 2008 Rip Curl GromSearch New Zealand
The first event of the 2008 Rip Curl GromSearch has attracted nationwide attention with a full field of surfers from both the North and South Islands. The event, to be staged at Fitzroy Beach New Plymouth is the first of four around New Zealand. It marks the start of a big weekend of surfing in the Taranaki region which also includes the Smokefree National Scholastic Surfing Championships being held at Opunake from the 29th April – 3rd May.
This weekend’s event plays host to five New Zealand representatives who are less than a month away from competing at the World Junior Championships being held in France. The Rip Curl GromSearch is one of the last events before the team travels and is vital for team members to maintain their competitive edge and hone their technical skills at this event.
Johnny Hicks (Gis) is one of the youngest members of the New Zealand team but has already represented New Zealand on two occasions at the World Champs (2006 and 2007). He goes into this weekend’s event as defending champion and currently sits second on the ratings.
“Yeah this event is pretty important in terms of my preparation for the worlds” commented Hicks enroute to Taranaki. “I have been surfing heaps but you need to be competing to make sure you feel comfortable when the pressure comes on. The more heats this weekend the better” commented a relaxed Hicks.
Taking the title last year may have something to do with Hicks being comfortable in the type of waves the region offers up:
“Hopefully I can defend my title here, I like the waves at Fitzroy Beach, when it is on, it is like my home break” Hicks remarked comparing the event location with that of his home break of Wainui Beach, Gisborne.
Top seed, Alex Dive (Mnt), another New Zealand rep, will hope to hold on to the top perch with a good result this weekend. Dive and Hicks who have been standouts all summer were upset at the most recent grommet event when Ben Poulter (Rag) secured his first under 16 boys win of his career. Poulter along with Blake Myers (WGM) and Tane Wallis (Piha) will form the most formidable five surfers to watch.
Local standouts will include previous under 14 boys division winner Mark Pathemore, Connor Anderson and Chad Jones.
The under 16 girls division also includes New Zealand representatives Rosa Thompson (Auck) and Alexis Poulter (Rag). The two girls have shared the honours at almost all the age group events this year both gaining selection in the New Zealand team and both winning the chance to represent New Zealand at other events.
These two surfers are even closer to departure for the World Junior Championships after opting to contest an Australasian Pro Junior event being held in Perth enroute to France. Earlier this year Thompson won the Rip Curl GromSearch national final allowing her to surf in the international final at the Rip Curl Pro held at Bells Beach, Australia during Easter. The winners of the under 16 boys and girls divisions at each of the four legs of the Rip Curl GromSearch get the chance to compete at the national final so Thompson will be looking to lock in her finals berth early on this year.
The premier divisions of the Rip Curl GromSearch are accompanied by boys and girls divisions for under 14s and under 12s. This is where it all begins for many of the young surfers of the country and a packed field of surfers at this weekend’s event will be eager to kick off their surfing careers.
The likes of the already mentioned Ben Poulter and Tane Wallis dominate the landscape of the under 14 boys but a bunch of younger surfers are slowly catching up. Waretini Wano (Piha), Patxi Scott – Arrieta (Sandy Bay), Kahu Craig Te Ranga (Waihi Beach), Peri Matenga (Mnt), Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata) and Dune Kennings (WGM) are but a few in the under 14 boys who will continue to move out from the shadows of the top two this weekend.
In the under 14 girls Ella Willams (WGM), Jayda Fitzharris (Gis), Gabe Marriott – McCarthy (Gis) and Alethea Lock (Chch) will all vie for top honours.
All competitors will be required to meet at Fitzroy Beach, New Plymouth at 7.00am on Saturday morning with an 8.00am start. Should the surf not be suitable at Fitzroy then an alternative venue will be sought.
Source: Surfing New Zealand
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