In an action packed day Ocean Lancaster (Merewether, NSW) and Olive Hardy (Gnarabup, WA) came out victorious in the 2023 Rip Curl GromSearch National Final Under 16 divisions.

With seventy-two of the leading junior surfers from around Australia participating, the quality of competition was extremely high at URBNSURF Melbourne as the groms raised the bar of Australian junior surfing. 

The day started with all the surfers soaking up the good weather and perfect waves with multiple solid performances going down in the opening round. Getting to the finals was going to be tough with the field filled with finalists from the recently completed Australian Rip Curl GromSearch series and the wildcards from the #GromSearchOnline event.

After all the finals were locked in across the 6 divisions, those who had been knocked out had the opportunity to show everyone everything they had in the FCS GromSearch Expression Session. The groms were then surprised by the appearance of previous International Gromsearch winner and Olympic bronze medalist Owen Wright.

The ultimate standout from the hour of froth-filled surfing was Ashton Crowley (Port Noarlunga South, SA) and Grace Cook (Cowaramup, WA). Crowley took on the tubes fearlessly to earn himself a brand new Rip Curl GPS Watch while Cook was able to put together all different types of surfing from strong carves to pulling into deep barrels to take home a brand new DHD board with FCS fins!

In the finals of the GromSearch competition, Olive Hardy put on a stunning display of youthful talent and determination to emerge victorious as the Under 16 Girls champion of the 2023 Gromsearch National Final. This didn’t come easy as the final came down to the wire with Ziggy Mackenzie (Bilinga, QLD), Alice Hodgson (Kiama Downs, NSW) and Sophie Wilkinson (Shoreham, VIC) also putting in an incredible performance. Going into the final set of waves on the right side of the URBNSURF wavepool all three girls had a shot at the title with all of them holding very high scores from their first finals’ heat on the left wave. 

Unfortunately for Hodgson she was not able to provide a good backup for her first excellent ride. Wilkinson, however, made a late run for victory on her second last wave but fell short. It was a tight battle between Mackenzie and Hardy as they came into the final wave with Hardy needing a 7.06 point ride to make her way into first. She then proceeded to belt out multiple forehand snaps to earn a 7.77 point ride (out of a possible 10 points) and the win. Mackenzie placed second on 15.33 combined points with Wilkinson and Grace Gosby (Caringbah, NSW) coming in third and fourth respectively. 

“I was a bit nervous going into my last wave but at the end of the day I just wanted to surf the wave the best I could to show what I could do,” said Hardy.

“All the girls totally rip and we are all super close friends which made it a really fun final,” she added.

On the other side of the pool was the Under 16 Boys where Ocean Lancaster (Merewether, NSW) put on an absolute clinic. In the first round of the final Lancaster stayed right in the pocket of the wave putting together four clean forehand snaps to receive a 9.70 point ride. Maverick Wilson (Dunsborough, WA) tried to close the gap by scoring a healthy number of his own, an 8.93 point ride, utilising his great backhand attack. 

The gap was then closed shut when Lancaster took off on his first left hand ride and went vertical on multiple powerful re-entries. This wave stood out to the judges as they awarded it one of the highest scores of the day, a 9.77, which sealed the deal with Lancaster putting the rest of the field in a combination situation with a 19.47 combined heat total. Wilson came in second on 17.60 combined points with Jesse Fergusson (Sunshine Beach, QLD) and Mitchell Peterson (Noosa Ville, QLD) placing third and fourth.

“My first right hander gave me a confidence boost so I went into the left feeling pretty good,” stated Lancaster.

“I knew that I still had to put a strong score up to secure my spot but I’m stoked I managed to do so,” he continued.

“It’s always good to come down to the pool as everyone cheers each other on creating such a sick vibe!”

Other division champions included Lucy Darragh (Kiama, NSW) and Jaggar Phillips (Matraville, NSW) in the Under 14 Divisions and Navah Holmes (Tugun, QLD) and Jaxxon Sands (Palm Beach, NSW) in the Under 12 Divisions.

Finals Results:

U16 Girls
1st – Olive Hardy (Gnarabup, WA), 16.04
2nd – Ziggy Mackenzie (Bilinga, QLD), 15.33
3rd – Sophie Wilkinson (Shoreham, VIC), 13.73
4th – Grace Gosby (Caringbah, NSW), 13.70

U16 Boys
1st – Ocean Lancaster (Merewether, NSW), 19.47
2nd – Maverick Wilson (Dunsborough, WA), 17.60
3rd – Jesse Fergusson (Sunshine Beach, QLD), 14.64
4th – Mitchell Peterson (Noosa Ville, QLD), 14.53

U14 Girls
1st – Lucy Darragh (Kiama, NSW), 16.60
2nd – Lani Cairncross (Kiama Downs, NSW), 15.60
3rd – Talia Tebb (Avoca, NSW), 15.33
4th – Rose Holland (Dromana, VIC), 11.83

U14 Boys
1st – Jaggar Phillips (Matraville, NSW), 17.60
2nd – Rio Luther Barr (Bundagen, NSW), 15.80
3rd – Luca Martin (Coolangatta, QLD), 15.33
4th – Brody Mulik (Burnside, WA), 13.93

U12 Girls 
1st – Navah Holmes (Tugun, QLD) 16.66
2nd – Scarlett Rennie (Phillip Island, VIC), 13.63
3rd – Ily Fraser (Margret River, WA), 13.57
4th – Mila Grainger (Newport, NSW), 11.03

U12 Boys
1st – Jaxxon Sands (Palm Beach, NSW), 16.80
2nd – Jacques Callebaut (Freshwater, NSW), 15.67
3rd – Andy Blanchfield (Norah head, NSW), 14.83
4th – Jasper Glossop (Broadwater, NSW), 13.73

Scores and results can be accessed via www.surfingvic.com/live

16 & Under Boys
16 & Under Girls
14 & Under Boys
14 & Under Girls
12 & Under Boys
12 & Under Girls

The 2023 Rip Curl GromSearch Series is supported by DHD Surfboards, FCS, URBNSURF Melbourne and Surfing Victoria.


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