After months of qualifying events spanning from California, to Hawaii, Florida, North Carolina and now back to California, the 2016 Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Banzai Bowls has officially wrapped up its season. With 64 hungry qualifiers with one goal in common, the action was through the roof at Seaside Reef over the weekend. A mixed bag of 2-3 foot surf was on offer as new moon tides showed many faces of conditions for the Nation’s top talent. In the end four National Champions were crowned, as they were awarded with $500, massive prize bags, bragging rights for a year, and the lucky 16/U division winners earned the all expense paid invitation to compete in the RCGS International Final, set to be held ‘somewhere on The Search’ in the Spring of 2017.
Starting off with the premiere Boy’s 16/U division, there was one clear standout from the early morning all the way to the finals and his name is Kade Matson. Matson not only took the big title, but he also finished 2nd in the 14/U division. Being the only double finalist and also being recorded as the youngest Boys 16/U champion in USA National Final history.
“I am so psyched, this is my first National Title, I usually always end up finishing 2nd or 3rd, I’m speechless,” expressed a clearly flabbergasted Matson, “I came up just short in the 14/U final, and I went into this one with nothing to lose, I had the mindset to just free surf the heat and it worked out. I am so stoked right now!”
Coming runner up in the final was event underdog David Economos who was a late addition as an alternate, 3rd went to Newport Beach’s Parker Cohn, and 4th the powerful Elijah Fox.
Moving on to the Girl’s 16/U, after an injury kept her out of last year’s event, Caroline Marks returned to win her 2nd RCGS National title in the past three years. Marks was in fine form all event as she also won the DHD High Heat total with a combined 17.50 heat total in her quarter final bout. She earned a custom Darren Handley Design surfboard for her efforts. Marks, a former runner up in the 2015 RCGS International Final described what it’s like to make her return to the event.
“The (International Final) is going to be so fun, it’s really nice to get to come back to the event with another opportunity to take the win. I’m really excited to see where The Search takes me, as I can’t wait to find out where we’ll be competing. I just know it’s going to be a really fun time competing with the best girls from around the world.”
Finishing runner up was former 2x RCGS International Champion Brisa Hennessy, 3rd Kirra Pinkerton, and 4th Samantha Sibley.
In the Boy’s 14/U, Malakai Martinez not only flew up from Costa Rica for the event, but when he arrived he flew all over the Seaside lineup. Martinez won the 14/U division, and was awarded the Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event for a tail high full rotation 360 air in the final, receiving 9.33 points for the ride. Kade Matson finished runner up, Crosby Colapinto took 3rd, and Seaside local Nick Marshall finished 4th.
For the Boy’s 12/U division it was a high scoring affair with all finalists bagging excellent rides. However, in the end, young Maui surfer Jackson Bunch came out on top. Bunch, tore apart the outside peak, while connecting his rides to the shoreline with exclamation final turns on the shore break. Fighting hard to the final horn, but coming up just short was Jett Schilling, 3rd went to Hawaiian powerhouse Robert Grilho III, and 4th Levi Slawson.
Rip Curl couldn’t be more proud to wrap up the GromSearch season with a seamless National Final. We would like to thank all of the surfers and families who support the GromSearch tour. Rip Curl couldn’t do it without our amazing event sponsors: our presenting sponsor Banzai Bowls, Flexfit, Carver Skateboards (we love the Wave Bank), Dragon Alliance, Skullcandy, Surface Sun Systems, DHD Surfboards, Clif Bar, Surfing Magazine, Surfline, and Wahoo’s Fish Tacos.
Make sure to check out SurfingMagazine.com and Surfline.com for post event coverage as well as Surfline’s Facebook page to vote for the #SurflineMoment of the GromSearch. For more event recaps, photos, videos, event info, and more head to ripcurl.com/gromsearch.
Official Results of the Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Banzai Bowls:
1. Kade Matson 16.54 ($500)
2. David Economos 10.93
3. Parker Cohn 10.50
4. Elijah Fox 10.10
1. Caroline Marks 13.70 ($500)
2. Brisa Hennessy 12.77
3. Kirra Pinkerton 8.37
4. Samantha Sibley 7.94
1. Malakai Martinez 14.00 ($500)
2. Kade Matson 13.73
3. Crosby Colapinto 12.00
4. Nick Marshall 8.83
1. Jackson Bunch 16.87 ($500)
2. Jett Schilling 14.16
3. Robert Grilho III 13.33
4. Levi Slawson 12.86
Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event: Malakai Martinez ($500)
DHD High Heat Total: Caroline Marks, 17.50 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.