Local surfer Matt Hewitt took out the premier under 16 boys division of the first event of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge held at Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, this weekend. The finals took place in testing conditions after a south-easterly front pushed through, ruining the clean conditions on offer during the morning.
It was Hewitt’s knowledge of the break that tipped the scales to his advantage once conditions worsened. Also in one for the books the Poulter brother-sister act from Piha took home three wins at the event in the Under 16 and 14 girls and the under 14 boys divisions.
Hewitt has been a form surfer over the past four months pushing for top honours at every event. At the National Champs only two weeks ago he fell short by one place to Ryan Hawker (Piha) but this time he went the distance to the cheers of his hometown supporters. His win could not come at a better time with the New Zealand Junior Team being named in eight days.
Hewitt posted a total heat score of 14.15 to win the final. He lead from early on, his usual strategy of catching as many waves as possible paying off. The tactic worked a treat in the unfavourable conditions and when he posted his highest single wave score of 8.0 in the later stages of the final the remaining three surfers were always going to play catch up.
Braedon Williams (WGM) opened with two good rides at the start of the final but was surpassed by Hewitt midway through the heat. However, he did hold off Hawker for second place and one of his best results in the under 16s. Hawker placed third in the final a mere 0.05 points behind Williams with Buck Woods (Gis) finishing in a wave-starved fourth place.
Alexis Poulter (Piha) started her year off in the best way possible by winning the under 16 and 14 girls divisions. Not to be outshone by his older sister, younger brother Ben excelled in the under 14 boys to win that division. Both surfers were on fire throughout the weekend winning heat after heat. In the under 16s, Alexis was unstoppable easily winning the final with a score of 12.25 over Muriwai’s India Wray Murane in second, Rosa Thompson (Auck) in third and Grace Spiers (WGM) in fourth.
She then went on to make it a double winning the under 14s this time in a closer battle with Grace Spiers who finished second with a score of 12.60 to Alexis’ 14.10. Rosa Thompson took out another third placing with Taranaki’s Casey Stevens in fourth place.
Ben Poulter won his under 14 final scoring 12.60 in a tough battle with Piha’s Tane Wallis who placed second ahead of Australian Damo Norman in third and local up and comer Todd Doyle in fourth. Poulter scored 7.50 for his highest wave score which put him in the hunt to win the Panasonic digital camera for the highest heat score of the event.
However a further excellent score was still required to bump Gisborne’s Adam Grimson out of pole position and the task was too tough in the deteriorating conditions leaving Grimson the winner with his massive heat score of 15.65 from day one. Marcelino Botin-Garcia took his first win in the Under 12s. The young surfer splits his time between New Zealand and Spain with his Dad being part of Team New Zealand in the Americas Cup.
Due to fly out on Wednesday his win will be a fitting send off before he spends the remainder of the year in Spain. Marcelino sealed his victory with two big turns on a righthander midway through the final that scored 7.00 out of a possible 10. Kahu Craig Te Ranga (Waihi Beach) led through the early stages before finishing in second ahead of local surfer Peri Matenga in third and Waretini Wano (Piha) in fourth.
Ella Spiers went one better than her older sister to take out her maiden victory in the Billabong Grom Series. After years of following her older sister around the country while she was competing, it was now her time to shine. The conditions were tricky for the young under 12 girls but they rose to the challenge. Chloe Shutt (Mnt) finished in second ahead of Auckland surfer Gabriella Samson (Auck) and Ella Williams (WGM) in fourth.
The series now moves on to Whangamata in two weeks time with the second of three events. The top ranked surfers in each division after the three events receive an airfare and entry courtesy of Billabong to Occy’s Grom Comp in Australia. Please see below for full results from Billabong Grom Series Event One presented by Oceanbridge.
Billabong Under 16 Boys Finals
- Matt Hewitt (Mnt), 1
- Braedon Williams (Whmata), 2
- Ryan Hawker (Piha), 3
- Buck Woods (Gis), 4
Billabong Under 14 Boys Finals
- Ben Poulter (Piha), 1
- Tane Wallis (Piha), 2
- Damo Norman (Aust), 3
- Todd Doyle (Mnt), 4
Billabong Under 12 Boys Finals
- Marcelino Botin-Gracia (Auck), 1
- Kahu Craig Te Ranga (Waihi Bch), 2
- Peri Matenga (Mnt), 3
- Waretini Wano (Piha), 4
Billabong Under 16 Girls Finals
- Alexis Poulter (Piha), 1
- India Wray Murane (Muriwai), 2
- Rosa Thompson (Auck), 3
- Grace Spiers (Whmata), 4
Billabong Under 14 Girls Finals
- Alexis Poulter (Piha), 1
- Grace Spiers (Whmata), 2
- Rosa Thompson (Auck), 3
- Casey Stevens (Taranaki), 4
Billabong Under 12 Girls Finals
- Ella Spiers (Whmata), 1
- Chloe Shutt, 2
- Gabriela Sansom (Auck), 3
- Ella Williams (Whmata), 4
If you didn’t make the first event, be sure you get to witness the remaining two events this summer. There will be some great surfing and plenty of fun activities to partake in. Keep your eyes peeled for the Billabong Grom Series event near you:
Billabong Grom Series Event Two – February 17th – 18th Whangamata
Billabong Grom Series Event Three – March 17th – 18th Piha Beach Auckland