17-year-old Piha surfer Leia Millar has ridden her way to a third straight win for the season, this time claiming the second leg of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge completed at Whangamata on Saturday (10th February 2024).
With surf pulsing into Whangamata at the 1.5m mark, the Under 18 Boys and Girls Divisions were surfed through to completion to maximise the good waves on offer on the first day of the event.
Millar attacked the solid waves all day and came up trumps in the final with an impressive 15.17 point heat total.
Millar wasn’t too sure what to pin her early season success on. “I’m not sure, but it has been really good to surf with all these girls and we are all pushing each other so it has been real fun,” Millar said.
“An aim of mine has been to do some bigger turns in competition and going for it on the end sections and I felt like I did that today, I am happy that it worked and I could surf to a win,” she added.
Millar pushed local surfer Pia Rogers into second for the third straight event, Rogers getting off to a flying start in the final but unable to back up her 6.17 ride and ultimately finishing with a 9.47 point heat total. Piha surfer Poppy Arkle finished in third place ahead of Sophia Brock (Mnt) in fourth.
Taranaki surfer Spencer Rowson claimed his first victory of the season in the boys division in an explosive final. Rowson’s power saw him jump to the lead before Tai Murphy (Ohope) posted an 8.0 point ride, only for Rowson to hit back with a 6.87 ride in the dying stages, clinching the win after the final hooter sounded.
“Definitely feels good to get a win, I have been struggling a bit, haven’t been surfing as good as I usually do, so it is good to find that rhythm,” said Rowson.
While his performance in the final was predominately powers surfing, Rowson had been going to the air regularly during the day. “I have been starting to go to the air as a point of difference with my surfing, everyone does it overseas so I want to be able to match that and level up by taking it to the sky,” he said.
Murphy finished the final in second place to retain his NZ Grom Series lead while George Laery (Mnt) surfed to third in his first final of the year with Tao Mouldey (Mnt) finishing in fourth place.
Earlier in the day Rowson and Laery defeated Tava Santorik (Mnt) and Flynn McGregor (Gis) in the first semifinal and Mouldey and Murphy defeated James Charlesworth (Auck) and Ezekiel Wyper (Tai) in the second semifinal.
The Under 16 Divisions were contested through to the semifinals with some big match ups confirmed for the final day. In the Under 16 Girls Division, New Zealand reps Lola Groube (Pau) and Alani Morse (Rag) will take on Chloe Groube (Pau) and India Kennings (WGM) in one semifinal. The second comprises day one standout Kyra Wallis (Piha), National Champion Maya Mateja (Rag), Indi-Lee Ruddell (Whngrei) and Poppy Entwisle (Chch).
In the Boys Division, the powerhouse Alexis Owen (Dun) takes on Kai Shearer (Oakura), local boy Harrison Biddle and Zen Mouldey (Mnt). In the second semifinal, Pauanui’s Jay Tingle takes on Tommy Lodge (HBay), Sam Frazerhurst (Auck) and Jaxon Willows (Mnt).
Kyra Wallis won the Volkswagen Highest Single Wave Score Award for her 9.1 point ride in the opening round of the Under 16 Girls Division.
Full results, Sunday’s schedule and NZ Grom Series rankings can be viewed at www.Liveheats.com/SurfingNewZealand.
For further information on the 2024 Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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