Paco’s Power Decisive In Win at the Rip Curl GromSearch

Paco Divers of Sandy Bay showed that he was a class above his competitors this weekend when he won the final event of the 2006 Rip Curl GromSearch. Divers’ speed and power were exceptional in the final and his performance was nothing short of international standard. By way of winning the event he jumped Matt Hewitt (Mnt) on the 2006 GromSearch standings to take the overall title. Johnny Hicks placed second which secured him a place in the national GromSearch final which will be held as part of the Rip Curl Pro at Raglan in March.

The surf continued to improve over the day until it was a solid 1.0m – 1.5m. The offshore winds groomed the surface conditions to perfection with a left and right peak producing the goods in front of the New Plymouth Surfriders clubrooms. Divers capitalised on the conditions posting a near perfect 9.0 ride on one wave and a 6.0 on his back up wave. In his victory speech he commented on how important the win was given that it was his last event in this age group and that he wanted to go out on a winning note. The other three finalists will be happy to see the back of Divers in 2007 when they attempt to fill his shoes at the top of the pack.

Johnny Hicks (Gis) surfing in his second final of the day moved into second on his last wave scoring a total of 13.15 slightly ahead of Matt Hewitt (Mnt) on 13.0 points. Hewitt scored a 7.50 on is highest scoring ride after performing several critical turns on his forehand and finishing his ride on the beach. Buck Woods (Gis) finished in fourth after peaking in the semifinals and falling on several waves in the final.

Paige Hareb (Tara) showed up all the girls and also half of the boys field on the finals day when she posted 14.75 out of a possible 20 in the finals. Hareb surfed both the lefts and rights off the ‘A frame’ peak with her best ride of an 8.0 being secured on a bowly lefthander. Auckland surfers filled the remaining three positions with Nicola Colson-Koster placing second and doing enough to fill the last Rip Curl GromSearch finals berth. India Wray-Murane placed third with Georgia Cooper in fourth. Rosa Thompson finished the event in fifth place but that was enough to win the under 16 girls Rip Curl GromSearch for 2006.

Local surfer Mark Pathmore continued his rich vein of form over the weekend to take a come behind win in the under 14 boys in the tightest final of the day. The lead changed several times over the 20 minutes with all surfers within a point of each other with two minutes remaining prior to the last wave exchange. Johnny Hicks (Gis) was the first to strike jumping into the lead with a heat total of 12.15 but both Blake Myers (WGM) and Pathmore had the last say. First Myers scored 4.45 to take the lead then Pathmore stormed home with a long lefthander that he smashed all the way to the beach for a score of 8.75 and the lead. It was an exceptional first out win for Pathmore who rode his emotions throughout the closest heats of the two day event. Karne Pitcher (WGM) was always within a sniff of the first place but eventually finished in fourth. All was not lost however with his performance enough to win him the overall 2006 Rip Curl GromSearch for the under 14 boys.

Whangamata’s Grace Spiers made the perfect comeback to competition winning the under 14 girls. Spiers has been out of the water for most of the winter months with a bulged disc in her back. However today she surfed to 15.25 for her total heat score utilising the longer lefthanders to maximise her scores. Current ratings leader Rosa Thompson (Piha) could not hold off Spiers but surfed well to place second ahead of good mate Georgia Cooper also of Piha with Ella Williams in fourth. Thompson by way of placing second did enough to hold her ratings lead and win the Rip Curl GromSearch for 2006.

Tane Wallis (Piha) lived up to all expectations in the under 12 boys winning the division and making it a clean sweep of the three legs of the Rip Curl GromSearch that he entered. His domination of the under 12s was highlighted by his 17.25 total heat score that included a 9.0 point wave on his first scoring ride. Damien Tafu (Piha) secured his best result of the year placing second after an excellent weekend of surfing. Tackling the big sets with a vengeance he proved that when he finds his form in the bigger surf, he is hard to beat. Young Marcelino Botin-Garcia (Auck) placed third in his first final and Fintan Cram (WGM) made it back to back fourths after his effort at the last event held in Muriwai.

Jayda Fitzharris (Gis) surfed to her maiden victory in the under 12 girls and she only needed to ride two waves to take the win. Daughter of Michael Fitzharris, New Zealand National Longboard Champion, the talent is obviously in her genes! Her surf life saving experience also helped in the solid conditions as the girls took several huge sets on the head. Fitzharris scored 7.0 on her first wave and a total of 10.50 for her total heat score after riding the waves on the outside bank. Good friend Gabe Marriot (Gis) made her comeback to the Rip Curl GromSearch after injury and surfed to second place also tackling the bigger waves on the outside. Whangamata surfers Ella Williams and Ella Spiers placed third and fourth respectively. As a result of her third placing Williams won the overall Rip Curl GromSearch for 2006.

The top five surfers in each division are shown below:

Rip Curl Under 16 Boys

  • 1 Paco Divers (Sandy Bay)
  • 2 Matt Hewitt (Mnt)
  • 3 Sean Peggs (Tairua)
  • 4 Buck Woods (Gis)
  • 5 Braedon Williams (Whmata)

Rip Curl Under 14 Boys

  • 1 Karne Pitcher (WGM)
  • 2 Reno Marriott (Gis)
  • 3 Dylan Pidgeon (Auck)
  • 4 Damien Tafu (Piha)
  • 5 Alex Dive (Mnt)

Rip Curl Under 12 Boys

  • 1 Tane Wallis (Piha)
  • 2 Damien Tafu (Piha)
  • 3 Waretini Wano (Piha)
  • 4 Fintan Cram (Whmata)
  • 5 Ben Poulter (Piha)

Rip Curl Under 14 Girls

  • 1 Rosa Thompson, (Auck)
  • 2 Georgia Cooper (Auck)
  • 3 Ella Williams (Whmata)
  • 4 Grace Spiers, Whmata
  • 5 Alexis Poulter (Piha)

Rip Curl Under 14 Boys

  • 1 Karne Pitcher (WGM)
  • 2 Reno Marriott (Gis)
  • 3 Dylan Pidgeon (Auck)
  • 4 Damien Tafu (Piha)
  • 5 Alex Dive (Mnt)

Rip Curl Under 12 Girls

  • 1 Ella Williams (Whmata)
  • 2 Gabe Marriott (Wainui Bch)
  • 3 Jayda Fitzharris (Gis)
  • 4 Gabriella McDonnell (Gis)
  • 5 Jabriella Sansom (Gis)

The Rip Curl GromSearch is the longest running grommet series in New Zealand. The series comprises four events in 2006. Events are scheduled for each of the school holidays and are dotted around New Zealand. Rip Curl GromSearch events focus on participation in the sport of surfing and are held worldwide. The events offer an excellent opportunity for youngsters to meet other surfers and compete against each other many for the first time in their lives.