72 of the nations best groms went head to head on the perfect peaks of BSR Surf Resort. Who came out victorious?
Waco, Texas (October 24, 2019): The 2019 Rip Curl GromSearch National Final presented by Banzai Bowls, BSR Surf Resort and PerfectSwell finished its 20th anniversary season in the freshwater perfection of the BSR Surf Resort. The season began back in June at Huntington Beach Pier, flew to the Kewalo Basin, Oahu, crossed the nation to New Smyrna, FL, and found its last qualifiers on the beaches of Nags Head, NC. On Thursday we crowned four division champions and found our two 16/U finalists that will be heading to the International Final at Bells Beach in the Spring.
The stacked 72 names on the contest roster included surfers from the East Coast, Hawaii, Panama, Costa Rica, Canada and Barbados. The winners of the Boys and Girls 16/U divisions, Ocean Macedo (Maui, HI) and Betty Lou Sakura Johnson (Oahu, HI) won $1,500 (provided by PerfectSwell) and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the premiere International Final on the steps of Bells Beach during the WSL Champion Tour event in 2020. The last time the GromSearch Final was held at Bells Beach was back in 2011. Ocean and Betty Lou will surf alongside the CT’s top surfers as they prepare for the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
With no waiting period and perfect, all-day waves on tap the dark, cold Texas morning was buzzing with energy. Competitors warmed up in the pool previous to the event preparing planned runs for each of their dedicated waves. PerfectSwell worked countless hours to prepare and perfect a custom wave for the event, a 3-wave “Lowers” style break with a 1-min break between sets.
“I’m so stoked. I got the call up, I’ve never surfed a wave pool before and now I’m heading to another new place [Bells], it’s really a dream come true for sure.” Said Ocean.
“Probably one of my favorite events ever. No one has done something like this and I’m the first junior winner, it’s amazing. Plus getting to surf around CT surfers, I think getting a few waves will be hard but still so fun to just be there”.
The Boys 16/U Final also saw Jake Swierkocki (Ventura, CA) earn the …Lost Surfboards High Heat total with a lethal combination of gouges and a back side full rotation. Jake will win a free custom …Lost Surfboard and custom GromSearch Sector9 skateboard for his 18.77 heat total in the qualifier round.
The Girls 16/U Finalists faced Betty Lou Johnson against Sanoa Olin (Tofino, Canada), Alyssa Spencer (Carlsbad, CA), Vahiti Mahana Inso (Oahu, HI), Luana Silva (North Shore, HI) and Samantha Sibley (San Clemente, CA). The girls began teeing off on the lefts with Betty Lou scoring a 9.77 with Alyssa on her heels the entire heat with an 8.57 and 8.77. Consistency and completing waves were the key to the final as the girls started on their rights. Alyssa looked in form using quick, well timed aggressive snaps, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Betty Lou as she grabbed an 8.13 on her final wave, sealing the heat.
“Surfing a contest in a wave pool was unreal, it’s been awesome! I’ve never surfed Bells before and I’m just so excited to be there during the CT, it’s unbelievable. I’m so so happy I made this.”
Arguably the biggest highlight of the event was the Banzai Bowls Air Show – a specialty event that gathered each qualifying location’s Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event winners in a high flying, best maneuver winner takes all. The air show featured another custom wave designed to give competitors the opportunity to go as big as they wanted. A battle was brewing between North Shore’s Luke Swanson and Encinitas, CA’s Levi Slawson as they traded off pushing the boundaries of aerial surfing. Eventually, Levi Slawson stomped a fully corked full rotation to grab a perfect 10 from the judges shooting him directly into first place and earning him $1,000 in $2 bills from Banzai Bowls. Other highlights included a superman attempt from Nolan Rodgers (San Clemente, CA) and a huge tail high full rotation from 13-year-old Luke Wyler (San Clemente, CA).
The Boys 14/U Final saw the largest exchange of high scores with five different competitors sharing the lead at one point or another during the heat. The boys started off on the lefts with Keanu Taylor (Maui, HI) scoring a 9.00 on the first wave, immediately setting the tone for the heat. On left number three, Blayr Barton (Virginia Beach, Virginia) went to the air on the closing section after threading together three solid turns earning him a 9.33. However, rather than scoring one high wave, a consistency of excellent scores was the way to the trophy. Division winner William Hedleston (Cocoa Beach, Florida) brought a complete package scoring a 9.07 and 8.17 rounding out his top scores. William earned his first national title with this win as well as $1,000 and plenty of sponsor swag.
The Waco peaks have a way of suiting smaller surfers and the light frames of the Boys 12/U competitors, as they wowed the group with surfing well beyond their years. This division final pinned Rylan Beavers (Kauai, HI) against Jackson Dorian (Kona, HI), Cannon Carr (San Clemente, CA), Diesel Butts (Hilo, HI), Kai Kushner (LA County, CA) and Luke Tema (Oahu, HI). With most of the finalists having plenty of practice time in the pool prior to the event, this heat was not to be missed. Kai Kushner, an all-event standout, began the rights with a 9.00 on his backhand, while Jackson Dorian showcased an incredible 7.70. As the two went back and forth, Rylan Beavers began his campaign silently in the background. Rylan found an 8.33 on a right after earning an 8.57 on his left. The final scores were tallied, and Rylan took the win over Kai by a mere 0.2 points, making him the 12/U national champion, the first crowned in the BSR pool.
All in all, the Hawaiians came in full force, securing three out of the four division national titles with aggressive power surfing and above the lip antics. The event was truly a historical contest that allowed the surfers to display their full range of surfing on an even playing field. Rip Curl would like to thank its 2019 partners Banzai Bowls, BSR Surf Resort, PerfectSwell, Flexfit, Sector9, Oakley, FCS, …Lost Surfboards, Surfline, Surface and Wahoos.
Be sure to head to Surfline.com and Ripcurl.com/gromsearch to check out all the post event coverage and imagery. We hope to see you again next year as the GromSearch begins its 21st season on the shores of Huntington Beach, CA in June.
For full event coverage, video highlights, photos and more, heat to www.ripcurl.com/gromsearch.
Boys 16/Under - ($1,500)
1. Ocean Macedo (Maui, HI) 18.41
2. Kai Paula (Maui, HI) 18.34
3. Jabe Swierkocki (Ventura, CA) 17.83
4. Sage Tutterow (Hanalei, Kauai) 16.30
5. Hagan Johnson (S.C., CA) 15.00
6. Beck Adler (Venice Beach, CA) 10.00
Girls 16/Under - ($1,500)
1. Betty Lou Johnson (Oahu, HI) 17.90
2. Alyssa Spencer (Encinitas, CA) 17.34
3. Luana Silva (North Shore, HI) 14.23
4. Sonoa Olin (Canada) 13.87
5. Samantha Sibley (S.C., CA) 13.20
6. Vahi Mahana (Oahu, HI) 12.74
Boys 14/Under - ($1,000)
1. William Hedleston (Cocoa Beach, FL) 17.24
2. Keanu Taylor (Maui, HI) 17.00
3. Blayr Barton (Virginia Beach, VA)16.50
4. Kai Martin (Oahu, HI) 16.00
5. Hayden Rogers (S.C., CA) 13.50
6. Makana Franzman(Oahu, HI) 9.50
Boys 12/Under - ($1,000)
1. Rylan Beavers (Kauai, HI) 16.90
2. Kai Kushner (LA County, CA) 16.60
3. Cannon Carr (S.C., CA) 14.83
4. Diesel Butts (Hilo, HI) 13.70
5. Jackson Dorian (Kona, HI) 12.53
6. Luke Tema (Oahu, HI) 8.93
Banzai Bowls Air Show:
Levi Slawson, Encinitas, CA ($1,000)
…Lost Surfboards High Heat Total:
Jake Swierkocki, Ventura, CA – 18.77 (Custom …Lost Surfboard)