Tommy Coleman Rules Rip Curl GromSearch Stop #3 in NSB

August 17, 2017 • East Coast Contests

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.

Perfect conditions in New Smyrna Beach, FL, thanks to Tropical Storm Gert for the Rip Curl GromSearch Stop #3 last weekend. Photo: Dugan

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.

The intense summer thunderstorm that almost ended the day early. Photo: Dugan

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.

Tommy Coleman sets the pace for a record-breaking day at the Rip Curl GromSearch Stop #3. Photo: Dugan

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).

Tommy Coleman with the frontside air that won him the Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event award. Photo: Dugan

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!”

Tommy Coleman. Photo: Dugan

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!”

Girls U16 winner Caroline Marks. Photo: Dugan

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.

Boys U12 winner Ryan Huckabee. Photo: Dugan

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!

Beach scene at the Rip Curl GromSearch Stop #3 in New Smyrna Beach. Photo: Dugan

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

Division winners Tommy Coleman, Caroline Marks, and Ryan Huckabee. Photo: Tupat


Boys 16/Under
1. Tommy Coleman, Florida ($250)
2. Noah Beschen, Hawaii
3. Chase Modelski, Florida
4. Micha Cantor, South Carolina

Boys U16 runner-up Noah Beschen. Photo: Dugan

Noah and dad Shane Beschen (in car) kick it with Evan Geiselman and Tupat Eichstaedt. Photo: Dugan

Boys U16 4th-place finisher Micha Cantor. Photo: Dugan

Girls 16/Under
1. Caroline Marks, Florida ($250)
2. Nicole Fulford, Florida
3. Ava McGowan, Florida
4. Bree Smith, Florida

Girls U16 runner-up Nicole Fulford. Photo: Dugan

Boys U14 runner-up Blake Speir. Photo: Dugan

Boys 14/Under
1. Tommy Coleman, Florida ($250)
2. Blake Speir, Florida
3. William Hedleston, Florida
4. Kaleb Kirshenbaum, Florida

Boys U14 3rd-place finisher William Hedleston. Photo: Dugan

Boys U14 4th-place finisher Kaleb Kirshenbaum. Photo: Dugan

Boys 12/Under
1. Ryan Huckabee, Florida ($250)
2. Jake Chandler, California
3. Carl Burger, Florida
4. William Hedleston, Florida

Boys U12 3rd-place finisher Carl Burger. Photo: Dugan

One more of Tommy Coleman — dude did win two titles and two speciality awards to set a Rip Curl GromSearch record. Photo: Dugan

Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event:
Tommy Coleman, Florida ($300)

…LOST Surfboards High Heat Total:
Tommy Coleman, Florida – 18.60 points

Luke Marks slashes one during the freesurf. Photo: Dugan

The judging panel with head judge Jeremy Saukel. Photo: Dugan

Asher Nolan shows his Hurley grom squad crew how to up their scores by a couple of points. Photo: Dugan

Luke Tanner. Photo: Dugan

Ethan Harbison. Photo: Dugan

Rip Curl GromSearch alumni Evan Geiselman proves Rip Curl’s point: start here, go anywhere. Photo: Dugan

Seth Brown. Photo: Dugan

Gert + GromSearch = going off! Photo: Tupat

Zack Modelski. Photo: Dugan

New Smyrna Beach kingpin Aaron “Gorkin” Cormican. Photo: Dugan

And the crowd goes wild! Stay tuned for results and photos from the Outer Banks Rip Curl GromSearch stop, going down on Friday, August 18th.

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.

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