At 7 am on Sunday morning October 5th at the scenic fishing village of Medewi in Northwest Bali, dozens of groms who had traveled from all over Bali and Nusa Lembongan lined up together with the local Medewi groms to sign up and compete in the fifth regional Rip Curl Gromsearch event of 2009.
Looking out over the 2-3 foot waves peeling off the point at the cobblestone lefthander of Medewi Beach in Northwest Bali, the energy was high and the vibe was electric as the kids all knew what was at stake in today’s competition.
For the Under 16 division, today’s winner and runner up would be stepping up to the podium to accept the grand prize of a “Ticket to Final”, the exclusive entry into the National Grand Final to be held at Kuta Beach on October 25th. Only 20 groms , two from each of the five previous regional events (Lombok, Sumatra, Sumbawa, Java, and Bali) will be competing for the ultimate prize of a spot in the Rip Curl GromSearch World Finals at Bells Beach in Australia next year.
For the Under 14’s, it was their chance to get recognition and admiration from their friends and family as well as to come home with a trophy and prizes from the many GromSearch series sponsors.
A total of 62 groms entered the competition, a whopping 40 in the Under 14 division and 22 in the Under 16 division, coming from Medewi, Uluwatu, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Canggu, Nusa Lembongan, and even a couple of kids from Australia.
The conditions went from a rising tide in the morning then down to a dead low tide for the finals, making for a wide variety of surfing conditions throughout the day. According to Head Judge Mark “Boonga” Clift, “There were some very challenging conditions out there today for these groms, especially on the low tide later on in the day. But even so these kids sorted it out and posted some very good scores. It was really fun to watch, and great to see how high the level of grom surfing has gotten here over in the last 5 years.”
Clift was assisted in the judging duties by Rip Curl Team Riders Garut Widiarta, Wayan “Gobleg” Suyadnya, and Oney Anwar, as well as by Peter and Pete from the Medewi Boardriders Club and Ado from the Bukit Boardriders Club.
At the end of the day it was 11-year-old Jeren Kiring from Canggu that claimed victory in the Under 14 division with an impressive display of forehand surfing, throwing out big turns and floating over long sections on his way to racking up big scores. He was the first surfer of the day to post a 9 point wave during his round 2 heat, but had to fight off the constant charge of Koko Misuantara from Nusa Dua, who put on his own grom clinic with deep bottom turns and aggressive re-entry’s, taking 2nd place.
In the Under 16 division it was local knowledge coupled with a talented forehand attack that saw Medewi local Ahmad Kamal surf to the top spot on the podium and come away with his “Ticket to Final” entry into the National Finals. He charged into the lead early and staved off the repeated attacks of charging Rip Curl Team Rider Putra Hermawan from Nusa Lembongan, who was the only natural footed surfer in the final. From the podium, the beaming Kamal said, “I’m so happy to win here at my home break, and that now I can compete in Kuta for the trip to Australia. Thank you Rip Curl for coming here and having the GromSearch, and thank you to my friends and family who support me for surfing. Thanks so much, and see you in Kuta!
Then as is customary at all Rip Curl GromSearch events, so that even the non-surfers get a chance to participate, MC (Dede Gun) and Events Manager (Dhanny) gathered everyone around for games like trash collecting, musical chairs, quizzes and more until all the goodies including mobile phones from Fren, stickers, hats, wallets and more from Rip Curl were all gone.
Also taking to the podium to receive a goody bag from Rip Curl and cool Skull Candy headphones were the winners of the Expression Session. Mukhlis Anwar was awarded Best Trick honors for his aerial, and Herman received his awards for having the Best Wave.
Then it was time for the Rip Curl crew to pack it up and head home, so they could start preparing for the Rip Curl Surf and Music Festival and Rip Curl GromSearch National Finals that will take place at Kuta Beach on the 24th and 25th of October.
Just before heading back to Kuta, Rip Curl’s Marketing Manager James Hendy had this to say; 'I’m really impressed with the level of surfing these young groms displayed out there today, they are surfed incredibly well. And when it came time for the games and giveaways, the kids back here on the beach are also very competitive when playing for prizes and vying for their share of the free goodies. They went crazy! Everybody had such a good time, it was awesome. Thanks to all the kids and the Medewi locals that helped make it such a great GromSearch!”
The Rip Curl GromSearch Series 2009 is sponsored by: Fren, Skull Candy, Eat Sleep Surf (ESS), Light Surfboards, Yayasan Gelombang Udara Segar (GUS), Trax Magazine, Surf Time Magazine.