The Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Banzai Bowls returned once again to the epicenter of East Coast surfing, New Smyrna Beach, FL for the third of four regional qualifying events. Competitors were blessed with the best conditions the GromSearch has seen during its East Coast leg in recent memory.
With quality sand bars on offer, a local tropical storm off the coast produced consistent 3-4 foot A-frame peaks all day long for the Nation’s best junior surfers. A dangerous late afternoon thunderstorm almost ruined the day, as the event went on hold for over an hour prior to the final’s series, but the event was luckily able to finish before lifeguards kicked everyone off the beach.
With a stacked field of 96 surfers, with many traveling from California, Hawaii, the Caribbean, as well as all along the East Coast, the finalists in each division had to battle numerous difficult rounds to reach the podium. All four finalists earned a berth in the GromSearch invite-only National Final set to be held at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz, CA on October 6-7.
To recap the day would be quite easy as it starts and ends with the name Tommy Coleman. The 15-year-old (age divisions as of January, 1st), Florida native easily stole the show, as he not only won his own 14/U division, but also was victorious in the 16/U, as he went on to win two specialty awards; the Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event for a committed full-rotation 360 air ($300), and the …LOST Surfboards High Heat Total accounting for 18.60 points (a custom shaped Matt ‘Mayhem’ Biolos surfboard).
On describing his magical day Coleman explained, “The waves were really good, it was probably the best New Smyrna I’ve surfed in a long time. Plus those were some stacked heats! We went on hold, and I didn’t know what was going to happen to the conditions, but then it glassed off, and the waves got even better!”
Coleman continued, “I love the GromSearch based on the locations Rip Curl holds the events, and the quality of competitors you get to surf against. It’s great seeing everyone fly out from California and help raise the level of the surfing in the event. And it makes me push harder and surf better!”
Moving on to the girls 16/U division, the current 2017 Rip Curl GromSearch International Champion, Caroline Marks, dominated her old stomping grounds of Florida, as she since has moved to San Clemente, California to focus on her professional surfing career. Marks who is well on her way to qualifying for the 2018 WSL Championship Tour, still enjoys surfing in the GromSearch events to keep her game on point. If it wasn’t for Coleman’s full-rotation aerial assault, Marks may have been the first female ever to win the Banzai Bowl’s Maneuver of the Event, as she held on to the award for part of the day.
Ryan Huckabee may be in the 12/U division, but he stands a towering 6 feet tall and showed his manpower as he took the win in the youngest GromSearch division. Huckabee defended his 2016 Florida regional title, as he has his eyes set on winning his first GromSearch National Title this October. Congratulations to all the finalists, as we look forward to seeing them at Steamer Lane!
Rip Curl would like to thank our great event sponsors, Banzai Bowls, Flexfit, Dragon Alliance, POSCA, Leus, Hydro Flask, Stance, Surface Corp, …LOST Surfboards, and Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. Stay tuned for coverage of the next GromSearch event on Friday August 18th at Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head, North Carolina. For full event coverage, video highlights, photos, and entries head to www.ripcurl.com/gromsearch.
OFFICIAL RESULTS FROM STOP #3 NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL – 2017 RIP CURL GROMSEARCH PRESENTED BY BANZAI BOWLS
1. Tommy Coleman, Florida ($250)
2. Noah Beschen, Hawaii
3. Chase Modelski, Florida
4. Micha Cantor, South Carolina
1. Caroline Marks, Florida ($250)
2. Nicole Fulford, Florida
3. Ava McGowan, Florida
4. Bree Smith, Florida
1. Tommy Coleman, Florida ($250)
2. Blake Speir, Florida
3. William Hedleston, Florida
4. Kaleb Kirshenbaum, Florida
1. Ryan Huckabee, Florida ($250)
2. Jake Chandler, California
3. Carl Burger, Florida
4. William Hedleston, Florida
Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event:
Tommy Coleman, Florida ($300)
…LOST Surfboards High Heat Total:
Tommy Coleman, Florida – 18.60 points
About the GromSearch:
Since Rip Curl developed the concept for the GromSearch events in 1999, the series has spread throughout the surfing world and now culminates with an International final held at a different location each year. The worldwide series is held for male and female surfers aged 16 years and under, commonly referred to as “groms”, with the aim of the GromSearch is to nurture and recruit the next generation of surfers at a grassroots level.
Former GromSearch champions include current WSL World Tour stars; Gabriel Medina, Owen Wright, Jordy Smith, Matt Wilkinson, Nat Young, Kolohe Andino, Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons.