One thing’s for sure, the East Coasters at this year’s Rip Curl GromSearch National Finals definitely got noticed. The fact that they rolled up about 30 deep didn’t hurt. But our top young surfers from all up and down the coast demanded respect out in the water, too.
On October 26th, clean 2- to 4-foot waves rolled in all day, providing a perfect canvas for eager groms. A $500 payday was on the line in each division, with Boys and Girls U16 competitors also vying for a trip to Australia to compete in the GromSearch World Championships and watch the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. So it’s fair to say that pretty much everyone was chomping at the bit. And the level of surfing was absolutely through the roof, so spectators were certainly never bored.
Despite the stiff competition, East Coast representatives ended up in almost every final. The only division that escaped the Right Coast assault was Boys 16 & Under, where Pat Curren (yes, that would be Tom Curren’s son) clinched a last-minute victory over Griffin Colapinto. In the Boys 14 & Under division, South Carolina’s Luke Gordon secured the East Coast’s top result with an impressive runner-up finish to on-fire Hawaiian Kaulana Apo, and Tarheel State representatives Stevie Pittman and Bo Raynor held it down in the Boys 12 & Under division, claiming 3rd and 4th respectively.
But one of the biggest East Coast accomplishments came courtesy of 11-year-old Melbourne Beach, FL, native Caroline Marks, who became the youngest girl in GromSearch history to make the Girls 16 & Under finals. More impressive still, she actually led until the last five minutes, when a flurry of activity ultimately bumped her down to 4th. Not bad for someone who just started surfing 18 months ago.
Though the East Coast ultimately didn’t bring home the bacon this year, all our top contenders will still be around for 2014, so they were perfectly content to just add this year’s experience as another notch in their belts. And there’s no denying that it was a great time, either. Despite the high level of competition, the event had a surprisingly chummy atmosphere, complete with plenty of horseplay, product giveaways, snacks in abundance, and, of course, costumes. Combine all that was beautiful waves on tap, and it was a pretty good weekend to be an East Coast kid.