Tough Conditions No Challenge for Hicks

Johnny Hicks proved too strong for all comers on the final day of the Rip Curl GromSearch held at Back Beach in New Plymouth, New Zealand this weekend as he went on to win the under 16 boys division of the event. His day one form was a sign of things to come and he held that momentum through until the final, even when the swell was dying and the tide had bottomed out.

Day two started with nice clean conditions and head high waves at Back Beach but the tide played havoc with the swell until just prior to the under 16 boys final when a decision was made to move them down the beach to a more consistent bank.

The move didn’t hinder Hicks as he held his composure to win the final with a score of 13.25 out of a possible 20. Hicks locked in several mid-range scores but it wasn’t until the later stages of the final when he consolidated his lead by posting a 7.50 for a longer right hand wave that gave him a more open face to work with.

Hicks has had a mixed bag of results this year but seems to excel at the Rip Curl GromSearch events. He won the national final back in March this year and earned himself a position in the international final representing New Zealand. With this win he secures yet another chance to gain national honours in early ’08 alongside Tyler Anderson who won the first event of the four event series.

A further two events remain in the series this year allowing another two surfers the chance to surf in the national final held at Manu Bay in Raglan. Hicks now leads the Rip Curl GromSearch ratings.

Placing second today was Zen Wallis who secured the best result of his surfing career so far. Wallis looked to be in dominating form through the semifinals and fought out the final until the very last wave only requiring a 6.76 for the win.

Despite not winning, this result will be rewarding and will see him jump into second place on the ratings. Placing third was local surfer Mathis Smith. Smith surfed smoothly through the event but what good waves there were in the final eluded him and he had to settle for third with a score of 10.00 ahead of Karne Pitcher in fourth scoring 7.25.

Earlier in the day Pitcher and Hicks overcame Alex Dive (Mnt) and Michael Mallalieu (Tara) in heat one while Wallis and Smith won a tight battle against the younger of the Wallis brothers Tane and Adam Cranston (Gis).

India Wray-Murane (Mur) won the under 16 girls division in possibly the most difficult conditions of the event. The tide was dead low and the waves had decreased in size to the point of dumping on the shore. Despite being the tallest girl in the final Wray Murane managed to out do the other three finalists and take her first win of the year.

She now secures a place in the national final alongside Alexis Poulter (Rag) who won the first event of the year. It was Poulter that finished in second place this time around ahead of Rosa Thompson (Auck) and Ella Williams (WGM).

Mount Maunganui’s Todd Doyle took his maiden victory in the under 14 boys division after making three finals earlier in the year but coming up short of the top position on each occasion. Doyle made the most of the better conditions early on posting the highest score of the final on his first wave a 7.0 point ride.

As the tide continued to go out deteriorating the conditions, all four competitors struggled to find any waves of note. Peri Matenga (Mnt) made the most of it and being the smallest surfer in the final he managed to hold down second place with the biggest surfer in the final Joe Moretti (Mimiwhangata) in third and Tane Wallis (Piha) in fourth place.

Hot off her finals berth at the Rusty Gromfest in Australia, Alexis Poulter (Rag) claimed a comprehensive victory in the under 14 girls division to go with her second place in the under 16s.

In the difficult conditions Poulter used her experience to find the longer waves and score the points in the end finishing with a score of 9.25. Alethea Lock, one of two surfers up from Christchurch placed a well deserved second place with Rosa Thompson (Auck) in third and young Ella Williams (WGM) in fourth.

Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata) took his maiden victory in the under 12 boys division when he rode a wave in the dying seconds of the final to post 5.65 and jump into the lead.

Moretti has made one final this year finishing in fourth place and this win will come as a huge confidence boost. He surfed fast and his turns suited the small conditions as he raced across the waves. Peri Matenga (Mnt) finished in second place after being locked in a two way tie for second with Adam Grimson (Gis) but having the better higher scoring wave of 6.0. Dune Kennings (Piha) rounded out the finals placing fourth.

Both Jayda Fitzharris (Gis) and Ella Williams (WGM) entered all three girls divisions and spent the best part of the day in the water. Their efforts paid off as they surfed to first and second in the under 12 girls division with Fitzharris taking the honours with a score of 12.50.

Williams rode the highest scoring single wave of the final - an excellent 8.25 out of a possible 10 but was unable to back it up with a second good ride. The Sansom twins of Auckland both made the final as well and it was Gabriela that came out on top in third place to beat her sister Bianca into fourth.

Under 16 Boys Final

Johnny Hicks (Gis), 1

Zen Wallis (Piha), 2

Mathis Smith (Tara), 3

Karne Pitcher (Whmata), 4

Under 14 Boys Final

Todd Doyle (Mnt), 1

Peri Matenga (Mnt), 2

Joe Moretti (Mimiwhangata), 3

Tane Wallis (Piha), 4

Under 12 Boys Final

Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata), 1

Peri Matenga (Mnt), 2

Adam Grimson (Gis), 3

Dune Kennings (Whmata), 4

Under 16 Girls Final

India Wray Murane (Muriwai), 1

Alexis Poulter (Piha), 2

Rosa Thompson (Auck), 3

Ella Williams (Whmata), 4

Under 14 Girls Final

Alexis Poulter (Piha), 1

Alethea Lock (Chch), 2

Rosa Thompson (Auck), 3

Ella Williams (WGM), 4

Under 12 Girls Final

Jayda Fitzharris (Gis), 1

Ella Williams (Whmata), 2

Gabriela Sansom (Auck), 3

Bianca Sansom (Auck), 4

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