The second of four regional qualifying stops of the 2018 Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Banzai Bowls visited the sunny skies and beautiful blue waters of Kewalo Basin, Oahu, Hawaii over the weekend. Pristine 2-4 foot waves poured into Kewalos' dreamy a-frame peak with consistency all day long.
88 competitors entered with one goal in mind, however only four reigned supreme, raising 1st place trophies over their heads, while taking home $250 cash, bragging rights, and a plethora of amazing prizes. All four finalists in each age division earned the coveted pass to compete in the invitation-only Rip Curl GromSearch National Final, set to be held at C-St., Ventura, CA November 17-18. The National champions in the boys and girls 16/U divisions will then earn their right to compete in the RCGS International Final which will take place somewhere on The Search in the Spring of 2019.
In the Boys 16/U it was a one man show, as Kauaian Sage Tutterow comboed the field with a pair of excellent scoring rides in the 8-point rage. Sage utilized his sharp and tactical backhand attack to impress the judges.
"What worked for me was waiting and being selective with waves and finding waves that stood up and had a good wall," Tutterow explained on his secrets to success.
While speaking on the opportunity to surf in the International GromSearch final, Tutterow went on to say, "Winning Nationals and competing for the International title would be a sick experience and the location Rip Curl picks is always a great place with even better waves. Also, being up against some of the best juniors in the world would really fire me up. I can't wait for the rest of the series!"
Coming runner-up went to underground ripper Zach Hedemann, 3rd Jake Riccobuano who after many years made his first GromSearch final, and finishing 4th was the lone non-Hawaiian who made the finals, Max Beach of San Clemente, CA.
Moving on to the girls, Gabriela Bryan took a narrow victory over young Ewe Wong with a final point total of 16.8 to 16.2. Bryan who's been on an absolute competitive tear the past few months, kept her winning streak alive as she was the queen of Kewalos on this day. 13-year-old Wong surfed confident at her home break and put on a solid performance. 3rd place went to Gabriella Knudson, and 4th Leila Riccobuano, making it a brother/sister combo of finalists.
The Boys 14/U division put on an entertaining show as the boys went for broke and nearly many heroic heat-winning aerials were landed. As the dust settled it was Jackson Bunch a former GromSearch National champion who took the win, runner-up went to Brodi Sale, 3rd place Robert Grilho III, and in 4th was Luke Swanson.
Speaking of Swanson, he was awarded a specialty award for a dynamic backside air-reverse that earned him the Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event and $300 in two dollar bills!
Last but not least was the Boys 12/U, which was arguably the most exciting final as numerous high scores went down by all four young surfers. Taking the victory for the 2nd year in a row was Kai Martin, who was also awarded the …LOST Surfboards High Heat Total scoring an astonishing 19.27 points in his opening heat of the day. The record breaking high score earned Martin a custom shaped surfboard courtesy of …LOST. Runner-up went to the powerful MaiKai Burdine, 3rd the stylish Rylan Beavers, and 4th Miles Sahetay-Engel.
Rip Curl would like to thank its 2018 event partners, Banzai Bowls, Flexfit, POSCA, RXBar, Hydro Flask, FCS, Surface, …LOST Surfboards, Oakley and Wahoo's Fish Tacos.
Be sure to head to Surfline.com to check out post event coverage. You can also be a part of the action by voting for the user choice event's best photo on Surfline's Instagram story (@surfline).
We hope to see you at our next GromSearch event August 11-12 at New Smyrna Beach, FL. For full event coverage, video highlights, photos, and entries head to www.ripcurl.com/gromsearch.
OFFICIAL RESULTS FROM STOP #2 Kewalos, HI – 2018 RIP CURL GROMSEARCH PRESENTED BY BANZAI BOWLSBoys 16/Under 1. Sage Tutterow, Kauai, HI ($250) 2. Zach Hedemann, Oahu, HI 3. Jake Riccobuano, Oahu, HI 4. Max Beach, San Clemente, CA Girls 16/Under 1. Gabriela Bryan, Kauai, HI ($250) 2. Ewe Wong, Oahu, HI3. Gabriella Knudson, Oahu, HI 4. Leila Riccobuano, Oahu, HI Boys 14/Under 1. Jackson Bunch, Maui, HI ($250) 2. Brodi Sale, Big Island, HI3. Robert Grilho III, Oahu, HI4. Luke Swanson, Oahu, HI Boys 12/Under 1. Kai Martin, Oahu, HI ($250) 2. MaiKai Burdine, Oahu, HI 3. Rylan Beavers, Kauai, HI 4. Miles Sahetapy-Engel, Oahu, HI Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event: Luke Swanson, Oahu, HI ($300) …LOST Surfboards High Heat Total: Kai Martin, Oahu, HI – 19.27 points
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, Kolohe Andino, Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, and Caroline Marks.