California Street Offers Up All-Day Perfection As Rip Curl Crowns The 2018 Gromsearch National Champions

This Saturday, four champions were crowned after a full day of truly all-time grom conditions and action-packed heats.


Costa Mesa, CA (November 18, 2018): The 2018 Rip Curl GromSearch National Final presented by Banzai Bowls wraps up its 19th consecutive season in glassy, pumping conditions at the Ventura right hander, C-St. The season kicked off in June at HB Pier, flew to Hawaii for Kewalo Basin’s best, stormed into New Smyrna, FL for stop #3, and found the final qualifiers at Nags Head, NC.

With an invite-only heat draw featuring 64 surfers from America’s East Coast, Costa Rica, Panama, California, and Hawaiian Islands, the diverse field arrived ready for battle. The champions of the Boys and Girls 16/U divisions, Taro Watanabe (Malibu, CA) and Caitlin Simmers (Oceanside, CA) scored themselves an all-expense paid trip to compete in the prestigious Rip Curl GromSearch International Final, to be held on The Search at an undisclosed location in May 2019.

While the event saw consistent surf all day, the curse of the final saw a lull set in, making wave selection the key to winning the 2018 Boys 16/U National Title. It was a stacked heat with past RCGS International Champion, Kade Matson (San Clemente, CA), Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event winner, Crosby Colapinto (San Clemente, CA), Taro Watanabe, and sole Hawaiian, Cole Alves all battling for the title. With the first 5 minutes going by without a wave ridden and the pressure mounting, the four finalists had to go big. Capitalizing on every opportunity, Taro Watanabe started the heat with a 7.50 and backed it up with an 8.67, the highest scored wave of the final. Shortly after, Crosby Colapinto linked together a long right hander that resulted in an 8.03, but wasn’t enough to top the 16.17 heat total of Taro Watanabe.

"It’s a pretty big achievement for me. I’ve never won a National title so it was my first win and it feels really good! Plus, I haven't won a comp in a while, so it feels really good to get that feeling back again."Taro Watanabe

Taro on describing the moment, "It’s a pretty big achievement for me. I’ve never won a National title so it was my first win and it feels really good! Plus, I haven't won a comp in a while, so it feels really good to get that feeling back again." While looking ahead to the RCGS International Final, "I'm stoked to be surfing against the best kids from all across the world in a place I've never been before, I'm excited for that!"

The Girls 16/U Final pinned the …Lost High Heat Total winner, Alyssa Spencer (18.27) and the events SearchGPS 2 Fastest Surfer, Caitlin Simmers (16.7 MPH) against each other. The heat saw consistent surf allowing the girls to pick off some of the day’s best and longest waves. It was a heat long nail-biter with the first through third place finishers all being within 2 points. Alyssa Spencer (Carlsbad, CA) started off the heat with a 7.00, linking together 4 quick snaps on her backhand. Caitlin answered back with a stylish, turn filled 6.27 putting the pressure back on the Finalists. Luana Silva (Oahu, HI) then opened her heat with a 7.67, the highest heat score at the time. However, Caitlin’s crisp, top to bottom rail surfing won the judges over as she put up an 8.73, the highest score of the heat, on a wave that ran from the point to the bay. Caitlin will now head on to the International Final to test her rail surfing against the best girl surfers on the planet.

The Girls 16/U Final pinned the …Lost High Heat Total winner, Alyssa Spencer (18.27) and the events SearchGPS 2 Fastest Surfer, Caitlin Simmers (16.7 MPH) against each other. The heat saw consistent surf allowing the girls to pick off some of the day’s best and longest waves. It was a heat long nail-biter with the first through third place finishers all being within 2 points. Alyssa Spencer (Carlsbad, CA) started off the heat with a 7.00, linking together 4 quick snaps on her backhand. Caitlin answered back with a stylish, turn filled 6.27 putting the pressure back on the Finalists. Luana Silva (Oahu, HI) then opened her heat with a 7.67, the highest heat score at the time. However, Caitlin’s crisp, top to bottom rail surfing won the judges over as she put up an 8.73, the highest score of the heat, on a wave that ran from the point to the bay. Caitlin will now head on to the International Final to test her rail surfing against the best girl surfers on the planet.

Event free surf standout, Levi Slawson (Encinitas, CA), proved early on before the contest he was the competitor to beat in the 14/U division. With a stylish blend of quick snaps, airs, and gouging turns, Levi put up two high 8’s resulting in a 17.44 heat total, comboing his fellow rivals, including runner-up Niko Coli (San Clemente, CA). Niko didn’t make it easy for Levi, splitting the peak and finding a sneaky left that scored him a 6.67. The second half of the heat saw fewer sets, making it challenging for 3rd place finisher Taj Lindblad (San Clemente, CA) and 4th place Noah Kawaguchi (Oahu, HI).

The 12/U Final enjoyed consistent sets pouring into the lineup, allowing the young guns to put on an impressive show. Oahu’s own Kai Martin opened his Finals campaign with a 6.57, showing off his powerful hacks right in front of the judge’s booth. Kai then quickly backed his score up with a 7.77 putting the pressure on the remaining finalist. Knowing it was going to take a lot to beat Kai’s 14.34, Cannon Carr showed the judges his small frame wouldn’t stop him from gouging through one of the biggest sets of the day, laying down 3 massive turns scoring him an 8.67. After proving his rail game, Cannon went to the air and stomped an air reverse worth 6.53 and solidified it with a double flex claim to seal the deal. San Diego, CA standouts Lucas Owston, and Cole McCaffray rounded out the final with their own impressive showings.

All in all, the 805 locals were in awe of the conditions the Nation’s best groms had to work with. It was truly a special event with waves that allowed the competitors to let their surfing do the talking. Rip Curl would like to thank its 2018 partners, Banzai Bowls, Flexfit, POSCA, RXBar, HydroFlask, FCS, Surface, …Lost Surfboards, Oakley, Surfline, and Wahoo’s Fish Tacos.

Be sure to head to Surfline.com to check out the post event coverage. We hope to see you again next year when the GromSearch kicks off it’s 2019 season in June at Huntington Beach, CA.
For full event coverage, video highlights, photos, and more head to www.ripcurl.com/gromsearch.


OFFICIAL RESULTS - 2018 RIP CURL GROMSEARCH NATIONAL FINAL PRESENTED BY BANZAI BOWLS

Boys 16/Under
1. Taro Watanabe, Malibu, CA 16.17 ($500)
2. Crosby Colapinto, San Clemente, CA 11.00
3. Kade Matson, San Clemente, CA 9.50
4. Cole Alves, Maui, HI 9.37

Girls 16/Under
1. Caitlin Simmers, Oceanside, CA 15.00 ($500)
2. Luana Silva, Oahu, HI 14.67
3. Alyssa Spencer, Carlsbad, CA 13.60
4. Tiare Thompson, La Jolla, CA 10.10

Boys 14/Under
1. Levi Slawson, Encinitas, CA 17.44 ($500)
2. Nico Coli, San Clemente, CA 11.50
3. Taj Lindblad, San Clemente, CA 7.30
4. Noah Kawaguchi, Oahu, HI 6.13

Boys 12/Under
1. Cannon Carr, San Clemente, CA 15.20 ($500)
2. Kai Martin, Oahu, HI 14.34
3. Lucas Owston, Oceanside, CA 12.63
4. Cole McCaffray, Encinitas, CA 10.63

Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event:
Crosby Colapinto, San Clemente, CA ($500)

...LOST Surfboards High Heat Total:
Alyssa Spencer, Carlsbad, CA – 18.27 points

Rip Curl SearchGPS 2 Fastest Surfer:
Caitlin Simmers, Oceanside, CA – 16.7 MPH


About the GromSearch

Since Rip Curl developed the concept for the GromSearch events in 1999, the series has spread throughout the surfing world and now culminates with an International final held at a different location each year. The worldwide series is held for male and female surfers aged 16 years and under, commonly referred to as “groms”, with the aim of the GromSearch to nurture and recruit the next generation of surfers at a grassroots level.

Former GromSearch champions include current WSL World Tour stars; Gabriel Medina, Owen Wright, Jordy Smith, Matt Wilkinson, Kolohe Andino, Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons

Visit GromSearch Page