Venezia, Spencer, and Ferri Win Rip Curl GromSearch Stop #4

August 22, 2017 • East Coast Contests

The 2017 Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Banzai Bowls has wrapped up its 4th and final regional qualifying stop over the weekend at Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head, NC. With one final chance for competitors to qualify for the RCGS National Final at Steamer Lane this October the event brought an array of competitors from across North America. The regions represented by event finalists included Barbados, California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Maine.

Fun waves for the Rip Curl GromSearch Stop #4, held Friday, August 18th at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, NC. Photo: Rip Curl/Patrick Ruddy

What all competitors had on their mind was the coveted top four finish per division, which thus earns them the invitation to compete in Santa Cruz. As those who did final, earned it through battling tough ankle to waist high surf as classic summer East Coast conditions were on offer. As the GromSearch saw in Florida last week, another treacherous thunderstorm entered the area midway through the finals, and put the event on a two-hour hold, before finishing up in the late evening.

Boys U16 winner Zander Venezia. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Breaking the laws of surf physics was long-time GromSearch veteran, Zander Venezia of Barbados, who easily stands head and shoulders above the majority of his competitors. However, his tall frame did not hold him back as Venezia took his first GS win after competing for the past six years. Venezia’s 16/U victory over close Bajan friend Jacob Burke, (who was the event’s Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event winner for a critical backside hack in the final), was a split decision by the judging panel. But in the end it was Venezia who took the win, $250 cash, and bragging rights!

Boys U16 runner-up Jacob Burke ran neck in neck with fellow Bajan Zander Venezia. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Venezia raised his trophy high, and explained his event strategy, “I’m very excited and super happy. You know the waves were pretty challenging, but still kind of fun. I was trying to use my (bigger) size to my advantage, because I can be more powerful. It’s a lot harder to catch speed, but I can push more water. I was trying to use my size to my advantage, rather than my disadvantage.”

The winning hack for Zander Venezia. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

In the Girls 16/U it was a cross-country traveler with a rich GromSearch winning record who took the top prize. Alyssa Spencer flew over from California with hopes of qualifying and not only did she achieve that goal, but she won her 3rd GromSearch event in the past three years.

Girls U16 finalists. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

The win didn’t come easy, as it was another split decision from the judging panel, as Rhode Island’s Maria Barend almost stole the victory with her own 9 point ride in the final.

Rhode Island’s Maria Barend finished 2n in Girls U16 in another close split decision. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Venezia and Spencer were obvious event standouts, but one surfer shone even brighter to stand out above the rest and his name is Diego Ferri. Ferri who made the trek from Hawaii not only won his own age group in the 12/U, but he also dominated the 14/U final, and walked away with the …LOST Surfboards High Heat Total for accumulating 17.17 points in the second heat of the day. Ferri’s small frame fit conditions well as he flew over flat sections and decimated all that was on offer at Jennette’s Pier.

Big winner Diego Ferri, who won Boys 16U, Boys 14U, and the …Lost High Heat Total. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Now with the GromSearch qualifying season all wrapped up, the attention now shifts to the 2017 RCGS National Final at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz October 6th-7th.

Things looked good for the last East Coast stop of the Rip Curl GromSearch. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Rip Curl would like to thank our event sponsors, Banzai Bowls, Flexfit, Dragon Alliance, POSCA, Leus, Hydro Flask, Stance, Surface Corp, …LOST Surfboards, and Wahoo’s Fish Tacos.

Stoked groms Blayr Barton, Diego Ferri, and Luke Wyler. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Be sure to head to to check out post event coverage. You can also be a part of the action by voting for the #SurflineMoment best photo on Surfline’s Facebook page. For full event coverage, video highlights, photos, and entries head to


Boys 16U finalists Jacob Burke,Manny Valentin, Logan Kamen, Seth Brown, Italo Mesinas, and Zander Venezia. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Boys 16/U
1. Zander Venezia, Barbados ($250)
2. Jacob Burke, Barbados
3. Manny Valentin, Puerto Rico
4. Seth Brown, South Carolina
5. Italo Mesinas, California
6. Logan Kamen, New Jersey

Italo Mesinas. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Girls 16/U
1. Alyssa Spencer, California ($250)
2. Maria Barend, Maine
3. Kailey Bogart, Hawaii
4. Rachel Wilson, North Carolina
5. Leah Thompson, North Carolina
6. Faith Patten, Florida

Boys U14 finalists Isauro Elizondo, Manny Valentin, Laird Myers, Luke Wyler, Diego Ferri, and Kyle Tester. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Boys U14 runner-up Laird Myers. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Boys 14/U
1. Diego Ferri, Hawaii ($250)
2. Laird Myers, Virginia
3. Isauro Elizondo, Panama
4. Manny Valentin, Puerto Rico
5. Luke Wyler, California
6. Kyle Tester, New Jersey

Drew Brophy putting on a POSCA Pen painting demonstration for the gathered groms. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Boys 12U finalists Luke Wyler, Kendrick Remahl, Braeden Kopec, Petey Romaniuk, Diego Ferri, and CJ Mangio. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Boys 12/U
1. Diego Ferri, Hawaii ($250)
2. Luke Wyler, California
3. Kendrick Remahl, North Carolina
4. CJ Mangio, New York
5. Braeden Kopec, Florida
6. Petey Romaniuk, California

Jacob Burke won the Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event award. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event
Jacob Burke, Barbados ($300)

Diego Ferri with his …Lost Surfboards High Heat Total award. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

…LOST Surfboards High Heat Total
Diego Ferri, Hawaii 17.17

Diego Ferri with his three checks. Photo: Rip Curl/Ruddy

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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