The 2018 Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Banzai Bowls has shifted east for to the 3rd leg of the summer tour finding itself in beautiful New Smyrna Beach, FL. The inlet at New Smyrna is well known for its talent pool of top surfers, however is also world renowned for its fish activity, more specifically; sharks. Not only were competitors facing small and challenging surf conditions, but the GromSearch was put on hold due to multiple sharks swimming through the competition lineup, as well as a torrential midday thunder storm that forced event organizers to send everyone to their cars to wait out the storm.

As the sky cleared, the sharks swam onward, the tide turned, and enough contestable surf was on offer for over 80 competitors who traveled far and long to reach the event. Not only was there a strong Floridian contingent on hand, but surfers from up and down the east coast, California, Barbados, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica entered the competition. Each of the top four finalists in their respective age groups earned themselves a qualification spot for the RCGS National Final at C-St., Ventura November 17-18. Then those 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. Rumors are circling on where this location will be… standby for that news.

With possibly the smallest contestable surf we've seen at a GromSearch event, it forced competitors to stay busy, and be aggressive to find scoring opportunities. In the Boys 16/U it was the surfers from Costa Rica who found that form, as Aaron Ramirez took 1st place, and Samuel Reidy runner-up.

"I traveled a very long way because this contest was very important to me," explained a grinning ear-to-ear Ramirez. "I trained so hard this year to reach my goals, so staying focused (even with the small waves) was easy. My strategy was to stay busy and keep calm"

Finishing 3rd was local Floridian, Blake Speir, who also was awarded the …LOST Surfboards High Wave Total, for his 9.17 in the semi-finals, which earned Speir a custom shaped Matt 'Mayhem' Biolas surfboard. Rounding out the final in 4th was New Yorker, Kyle Caracciolo.

Kailey Bogart flew all the way from Hawaii and made the trek well worth her efforts as she won her first ever GromSearch event for the Girls 16/U division. Congrats Kailey on your well earned victory!

Robbie Goodwin kept busy and found a peeling right hand peak that allowed two big snaps scoring an 8.33 to take the victory in the Boys 14/U. Coming runner-up to Goodwin was Braeden Kopec, who also finished 6th place in the 12/U, however it was Kopec's speed carrying frontside snap that earned him the Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event and $300! What a terrific day for the young Kopec.

New Smyrna standout, Ethan Harbinson, held it down for the locals as he took the victory in the Boys 12/U. Ethan is hoping to follow in the footsteps of other successful NSB surfers such as Evan and Eric Geiselman, Aaron Cormican, and Noah Schweizer to name a few.

It's not always easy to run an event with such challenges, but Rip Curl is so thankful for the GromSearch families for supporting the event, and the Surfsafari Club of NSB for lending a helping hand.

GromSearch couldn't be possible without our 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 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 later this week August 16th at Jennette's Pier, Nags Head, NC. For full event coverage, video highlights, photos, and entries head to


Boys 16/Under
1. Aaron Ramirez, Costa Rica ($250)
2. Samuel Reidy, Costa Rica
3. Blake Speir, Florida
4. Kyle Caracciolo, New York

Girls 16/Under
1. Kailey Bogart, Hawaii ($250)
2. Bree Smith, Florida
3. Ava McGowan, Florida
4. Summer Love, Florida
5. Jasmine Gailey, Florida
6. Sarah Abbott, Florida

Boys 14/Under
1. Robbie Goodwin, Massachusetts ($250)
2. Braeden Kopec, Florida
3. Owen Carter, North Carolina
4. Charles Oblinger, North Carolina
5. Gavin Coluccio, New York
6. Aaron Ramirez, Costa Rica

Boys 12/Under
1. Ethan Harbinson, Florida ($250)
2. Owen Carter, North Carolina
3. Charles Oblinger, North Carolina
4. Carl Burger, Florida
5. Bryse Celaya, California
6. Braeden Kopec, Florida

Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event: Braeden Kopec, Florida ($300)

…LOST Surfboards High Heat Total: Blake Speir, Florida – 9.17 points (Single Wave High Score)

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.