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Piha Challenges Top Juniors to End Billabong Grom Series

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The best young surfers in New Zealand had to contend with adverse West Coast weather conditions to round out the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge over the weekend.

Piha dished up onshore winds and rain for the final day of the third event with small 1.0m messy waves providing limited opportunity for surfers to express themselves and strive for event and series honours.

The conditions did not stop four titles being awarded to our rising stars of the sport with Ohope surfer Tai Murphy and Piha’s own Leia Millar taking the honours in the Under 18 Divisions.  Dunedin’s Alexis Owen secured his second win in as many events in the Under 16 Boys Division and he was joined by Northland’s Indi – Lee Ruddell who took her first win of the season.

Murphy looked sharp all event and in the final relished the chance to edge over to the Piha Bar where he surfed to a 13.17 point heat total, highlighted by a 7.67 point ride for one big fin blast on his forehand.

Murphy had trailed local surfer Will Hardie throughout the final, Hardie forging his own path through a stacked field of surfers after being injured for much of the past five months. Hardie finished with his best result of the season as runner-up.  Ash Rogers (WGM) and Tava Santorik surfed their first finals of the year with Rogers getting the nod over a progressive Santorik who went for broke at every opportunity but came up short.

Leia Millar battled away against fellow Piha surfer Poppy Arkle in the final of the Under 18 Girls Division but held the edge for much of the final and scored a 5.93 point ride on her last wave to extend her lead and take an eventual win.  Arkle, who surfed up a division all season proved that local knowledge is valuable finishing with a runner up placing.  Mount Maunganui surfers Sophia Brock and Ariana Walker finished in third and fourth respectively.

The Under 16 Boys Division Alexis Owen proved too strong for his opponents in a good scoring final.  Owen has placed in each final this year and on Sunday he continued his fine form surfing to a 13.06 point heat total for the win.  Harrison Biddle (WGM) pushed Owen for the win with pocket sixes but needing a 6.89 on his final ride, came up short with a 5.40.

Indica Corcoran (Rag) finished the final in third place, his best result of the season to date while Sev Tolhurst (Piha) placed fourth.

Indi-Lee Ruddell (Northland) surfed to her first national level win in the Under 16 Girls Division.  The strong natural-foot surfer attacked the Piha closeouts all day and set herself up nicely in the final when she scored a 7.0 point ride on her first wave.  From there, the pressure was on her opponents and they couldn’t counter punch, Ruddell finishing with a 10.73 point heat total for the win with the top three surfers separated by less than half a point.  Alani Morse (Rag) got the nod over Kyra Wallis for second place with Sage Fritchley (Mnt) in fourth place for a well-deserved result.

Please see below for the overall 2024 Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge winners.

Under 18 Boys – Tai Murphy (Ohope)
Under 18 Girls – Leia Millar (Piha)
Under 16 Boys – Alexis Owen (Dun)
Under 16 Girls – Alani Morse (Rag)
Under 14 Boys – Sol Fritchley (Mnt)
Under 14 Girls – Ella Withers (Piha)

The Volkswagen Highest Single Wave Score Award went to Leia Millar for an 8.33 point ride in the semifnals of the Under 18 Girls Division.  

Full results from the event can be viewed at www.Liveheats.com/SurfingNewZealand.

Further Information
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 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.

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

Follow the series hashtag – #BillabongGromSeries.

Surfing New Zealand is proudly partnered by:
Sport New Zealand
Sun Bum





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