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Cyclone Gabrielle Curtails Billabong Grom Series at Whangamata

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In a race against tropical cyclone Gabrielle, the second event of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge forged through five of the six divisions contested on Saturday 11th February with the Under 18 Girls Division completing the day in fading daylight before the prize giving was held under car headlights.

The day dawned with moderate easterly winds and a small swell under the 1.0m mark but both the swell and wind built all day until the surf approached 2.0m and wind strong making conditions less than favourable for Aotearoa’s best young surfers.

Local Whangamata surfer Pia Rogers got her first junior win of the season after placing in the finals in her previous two events.

Rogers posted an 8.33 point heat total and only snatched the victory in the last minute of the final thanks to a two-turn combo on her backhand that got her a 4.50 point ride and the win, pushing Anna Brock (Mnt) into second.  Taranaki surfer Skylar McFetridge placed third in the final ahead of the youngest Brock sister and event one winner, Sophia in fourth.

The Under 16 Boys Division saw another buzzer-beater finish with Mouldey following suit alongside Rogers, and indeed repeating his heroics from the first event at Mount Maunganui.

Languishing in third place with less than a minute to spare, Mouldey surfed to a 7.17 point ride for a long running lefthander.  Given the windy conditions, unbeknownst to him, the wave catapulted him into the lead with no time for his opponents to make another move.  It is the second consecutive win for Mouldey and the second time he has pipped National Champion Alexis Owen (Dun) in the dying stages of a final.  Owen had to settle for second place this time around with a clean performance all day that saw him edge out Theo Morse (Rag) who finished in third and Tyler Stenzel (Mnt) in fourth surfing in his first final of the year.

Leia Millar (Piha) dominated the Under 16 Girls Division all day surfing to a 9.44-point heat total in a low scoring final in the challenging conditions.  Millar used her vast experience in the messy waves to score 4.17 and 5.27 on her two rides for the win.  Pauanui surfer Lola Groube managed to find a 4.07 on her last ride to jump into second place ahead of Maya Mateja (Rag) in third and Chloe Groube (Pau) in fourth.

In the Under 14 Divisions, It was Vitor Bauermann (Mnt) getting his second win of the season with the Volkswagen Highest Heat Score of the Day Award for his 15.33 out of a possible 20 points in the final.  Bauermann used his powerful forehand to amass his scoreline and back up his national title won in January.

Sol Fritchley (Mnt) finished runner-up in the final ahead of Remy Sale (Mnt) in third and first-time finalist Jack Higgins (Dun) in fourth.

The Under 18 Boys Division was anticipated for Sunday but the deteriorating weather forecast forced the postponement of the division which organisers will look to reschedule in the coming days.

Full results and updated rankings can be viewed at www.Liveheats.com/SurfingNewZealand.

Each of the three events in the series attracts upward of 130 surfers. It is the eighteenth edition of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge.

The series offers up many surfers first taste of events, pitting themselves against their mates and taking in a fun two days of surfing and developing their skills in the ocean. Participants also team up for their boardrider clubs with the top five surfer’s results from each club going toward overall club rankings.

The 2023 edition of the series draws on a long history of fun with all of New Zealand’s current crop of elite surfers having taken part including Richard Christie (Gis), Paige Hareb (Tara), Billy Stairmand (Rag), Mount Maunganui’s own Kehu Butler and Ella Williams (WGM).

Further Information
For further information on the 2023 Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.

High resolution action images of the surfing at all events on the Billabong Grom Series will be available to media free of charge. Please contact Ben Kennings for further details.

Generous support from Billabong and presenting sponsors Oceanbridge has made this series possible.

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Follow the action via social media @billabong on Instagram and @surfingnz across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

Follow the series hashtag – #BillabongGromSeries.

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