The action resumed for Day 2 of the 2023 Rip Curl Gromsearch at Jan Juc with winners being crowned in all divisions. Performances were at an all time high with an increase in swell and the sun continuing to shine through the day. 

With a new swell pulsing through the ocean, judges were looking for competitors who committed to big turns on big sections. Scarlett Rennie (Cape Woolamai, VIC) took on this approach by dropping into double overhead waves and still not holding back. In her semifinal, Rennie took off on 5 waves and didn’t score below a 9.00 point ride on all of them. On her second ride of the heat, she collected the highest score of the entire competition, a 10 point ride. 

With this momentum, she went into the finals looking like the one to beat. In the final, she waited patiently out the back looking for another set wave just like those in her earlier heat. While Rennie waited, Stevie O’Day (Torquay, VIC) took the lead with a 6.17 on a long-running wave from out the back. However, soon after Rennie found a wave to complete a large swooping forehand re-entry. This committed manoeuvre earned her an 8.33 point ride and the win.  

“I love big waves more than smaller waves so I was happy with the larger swell,” said Rennie.

With excellent performances throughout the whole day, Rennie was awarded the DHD Ultimate Grom Award and earned herself a Mick Fanning signature board model DHD DNA surfboard. 

“I was really surprised with myself. I didn’t think I would get it but I’m super stoked to get a new DHD DNA board!” 

On the other side of the draw in the Under 16s, Jackson Woolnough (Caves Beach, NSW) was able to find a rhythm with the ocean that none of his competitors could. To make his way into the final Woolnough committed to the large close out sets that very few others would even touch. 

This didn’t change in the final with him stringing together a range of high hits early in the heat to score a 6.57 and the early lead. While his competitors tried to find their position in the lineup Woolnough was able to back up his first score with an 8 point ride for a combination of explosive backhand hits. This put the rest of his competitors in a combination situation and secured him first place. 

“I was just looking for the bigger waves as the faces were cleaner and I thought the judges were looking for people to be on bigger waves,” said Woolnough.

“It was a pretty sick comp and we got lucky with the waves which made it enjoyable,” he continued. 

In the Under 16 girls it was a tight battle right until the end with all the girls evenly matched and looking to take the win. Ava Arghyros (Kingscliff, NSW) started off the final strong with a 6.50 point ride while Ava Holland (Dromana, VIC) was close behind with a 6.17 point ride. As the heat progressed Olive Hardy (Gnarabup, WA) was able to make her way into first place with a combined 9.07 point total with two well-surfed right hand waves.

The ocean looked to be on Hardy’s side as it went silent for almost the rest of the heat before one last set came through. Holland was able to scratch onto a solid set wave and lay into multiple forehand snaps leaving the judges with a critical decision. After making her way to the beach Holland was rewarded with a 5.23 and the last minute lead giving her the win.

“I didn’t know what I needed when I got up on my last wave so I just tried to surf like I normally do as I was super nervous,” said Holland.

“It was a super fun comp and all the girls were surfing so well,” she added.

Also pulling off a last minute victory was Under 14 Boy Locana Cullen (Avalon Beach, NSW) who started off the final with an early 7.00 point ride but struggled to back it up.

Hunter Sutcliffe (Manly, NSW) was leading the final with a combined total of 14.27 points all the way up to the final minute when Cullen, needing a 7.28 point ride, found his way onto one last wave. Knowing he needed a large score Cullen went big pulling off a super technical inverted reverse to claim a 9.00 point ride. 

“I knew I had to go for something big otherwise I wouldn’t get the score, so I just went for it and I’m glad I made it,” exclaimed Cullen.

Cullen put in an extraordinary effort throughout the whole competition reaching the semifinals in the age division above him, the Under 16 Boys, and taking out the Under 14 Boys. 

“It was so fun, I love doing comps as I see all my surf mates that I usually don’t get to see,” he continued.

This consistent surfing made Cullen the obvious choice for the Boys FCS Outstanding Performance award.

“I was surprised to win the FCS award, however it was pretty sick!”

Winning the Girls Outstanding Performer award was Under 12 Girls finalist Stevie O’Day.

Finals Results:

U16 Girls
1st – Ava Holland (Dromana, VIC), 11.40
2nd – Olive Hardy (Gnarabup, WA), 9.07
3rd – Grace Gosby (Caringbah, NSW), 8.20
4th – Ava Arghyros (Kingscliff, NSW), 6.50

U16 Boys
1st – Jackson Woolnough (Caves Beach, NSW) 14.57
2nd – Lachlan Arghyros (Kingscliff, NSW), 9.40
3rd – Jesse Fergusson (Sunshine Beach, QLD), 6.70
4th – Ryder Lucey (Mermaid Waters, QLD), 6.00

U14 Girls
1st – Lani Cairncross (Kiama Downs, NSW), 12.50
2nd – Evie Wilson (Marcus Beach, QLD), 7.97
3rd – Leila Fraser (Gnarabup, WA), 7.83
4th – Rose Holland (Dromana, VIC), 4.37

U14 Boys
1st – Locana Cullen (Avalon Beach, NSW), 16.00
2nd – Hunter Sutcliffe (Manly NSW), 14.27
3rd – Hemi O’Brien (Palm Beach, NSW), 12.03
4th – Ashton Crowley (Port Noarlunga South SA), 10.53

U12 Girls 
1st – Scarlett Rennie (Cape Woolama, VIC), 11.83
2nd – Stevie O’Day (Torquay, VIC), 10.40
3rd – Ily Fraser (Gnarabup, WA), 8.20
4th – Estella Carbonelli, (Jan Juc, VIC), 4.84

U12 Boys
1st – Jaxxon Sands (Palm Beach, NSW), 13.03
2nd – Henry Smith (Mona Vale NSW), 9.60
3rd – Jacques Callebaut, (Freshwater, NSW), 7.03
4th – Brynn Spierings (North Bondi, NSW), 6.77

Full results and scores can be found via www.surfingvic.com/live 

The 2023 Rip Curl GromSearch Series is supported by DHD Surfboards and FCS.

EVENT 1 – Jan Juc, Vic – Sept 16-17, 2023 
EVENT 2 – Newcastle, NSW – Sept 28- Oct 1, 2023

Age divisions in the GromSearch Series are:
Under 16 Girls and Boys
Under 14 Girls and Boys
Under 12 Girls and Boys

Former GromSearch finalists competing on the 2023 WSL World Tour include:
Tyler Wright, Steph Gilmore*, Carissa Moore*, Molly Picklum, Tatiana Weston-Webb*, Caroline Marks, Brisa Hennessy* & Isabella Nichols. (Note: GromSearch competitors have won the last 14 WSL women’s World Titles).

Former GromSearch finalists competing on the 2023 WSL World Tour include:
Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo*, Italo Ferreira*, Jack Robinson*, Kanoa Igarashi*, Ethan Ewing*, Leonardo Fioravanti, Connor O’Leary, Seth Moniz, Griffin Colapinto, & Sammy Pupo. (*Note: 9 out the to 10 surfer competing in the 2022 WSL finals were former GromSearch finalists, including both world Champions).


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