GromSearch Regional Qualifiers Crowned in Florida

GromSearch Regional Qualifiers Crowned in Florida

Rip Curl GromSearch set up on the beachRip Curl GromSearch set up on the beach

The Path to the Pool culminated in a closely contested affair this weekend, and the fight for the remaining National Final slots was decided at New Smyrna Beach Inlet.

The third and final stop of the 2023 Rip Curl GromSearch series landed on the right coast last weekend, graced by playful peaks in the chest high range, and plenty of high-performance action from the array of young rippers from all over the eastern seaboard and beyond.

And although the heat was a tad stifling at times, and little reprieve offered from ocean wateralso in the upper 80’s, the fine folks at YETI and SunBum kept competitors protected and hydrated, for what wound up being an awesome day of Floridian day of surf.

Event standout Tommy Layson is no stranger to hot days, coming over from Barbados to compete for a slot in the Rip Curl GromSearch National Final. Layson wound up with a big win in the 14 & Under boy’s division, harnessing an impressive backhand attack and the quick lefts on offer for the final, and just edging out perennial favourite Lucas Cassity, from Todos Santos, Mexico. For Cassity, it was a tough loss to swallow, but he found redemption by making the 16 & under boy’s final as well, and is now the only double division qualifier in the Rip CurlGromSearch National Final field.

Both mornings of the two-day event began with groomed, offshore conditions, and the first heats of each day played host to standout performances. Gabe Griffin kicked off Saturday’s action with an air reverse that was the opening day’s leader for the Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event Award. But almost 24 hours later, it was Luke Lopez, son of Gulf Coast legend Cory Lopez,throwing a backside hail-mary to the flats, landing backwards and spinning it around to officially claim the $300 in two-dollar bills for his efforts. Cory smiled from ear-to-ear, stating “it reminded him so much of Hawaiian Matt Meola’s approach to the backside reverse.”

The fireworks kept coming, and though the maneuver of the event award slipped through Gabe Griffin’s talons, he managed to procure the day’s highest combined heat score, and won himself a custom Mayhem for the …Lost High Heat Total distinction. That, atop with his 16 & Under boy’s division title, meant that Gabe walked away with $500 cash, a custom surfboard, qualification for the National Final, and a boat load of swag. Not a bad outing for the relative underdog from hailing from South Florida.

Recently transplanted New Smyrna resident Michael Dunphy also graced the GromSearch shores with an appearance, and guest-judged the Softech Expression Session, much to the delight of the competing groms. The 6 featured athletes rode Mason Ho Softech twin-fins, and proceeded to implore an incredibly fun, functional and progressive approach, while Dunny hooted and hollered his approval through the mic. When the dust settled, it was the charismatic Tyko Tran who wooed him most, taking the win and the brand-new Mason Ho Twin surfboard.

The 16 & under girl’s final was perhaps the most closely fought of the four divisions, and it was a heat in which all four had legitimate shots at the win until the waning moments of the heat. Daya Mccart nearly snatched the upset in the dying seconds with late-game heroics, but it was not to be, and Santa Barbara local Vela Mattive was able to hold on for victory. Vela later stated,“I do love surfing Rincon at home, but I spend a lot of time at Ventura Harbour practicing in beach breaks too, and it is actually the perfect training ground for waves like these.” Mattive and Mccart were joined in the final by Alanna Lopez and Ava Lavender, all four of them qualifying for the Palm Springs National Final this October.

At the close of an immensely successful qualifying season of the Rip Curl GromSearch Series, Rip Curl would like to extend our thanks to all of our supporting partners: Banzai Bowls, Flexfit, GoPro, YETI, Oakley, FCS, …Lost Surfboards, Softech Surfboards, and Wahoos Fish Taco

Soft Top Expression Session winner being chaired up the beach by friendsSoft Top Expression Session winner being chaired up the beach by friends

Softech Expression Session Winner: 
Tyko Tran

…Lost High Heat Total Winner:
Gabe Griffin

Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event:
Luke Lopez

Boys 12 & Under:
Luke Lopez - 14.00
Sebastian Peters - 9.73
Wyatt Yount - 8.60
Tanner Brasol - 4.53

Boys 14 & Under:
Tommy Lyson - 14.50
Lucas Cassity - 12.53
Tama Hannemann - 10.40
Shea Edwards - 7.83

Girls 16 & Under: 
Vela Mattive  - 11.50
Daya Mccart - 10.40
Alanna Lopez - 9.43
Ava Lavender - 7.07

Boys 16 & Under:
Gabe Griffin - 12.07
Logan Radd - 11.47
Lucas Cassity - 10.70
Braeden Kopec - 9.90

Wyatt Yount surfing in the Rip Curl GromSearch compWyatt Yount surfing in the Rip Curl GromSearch comp
Kylie Pulcini surfing in the Rip Curl GromSearch compKylie Pulcini surfing in the Rip Curl GromSearch comp
Tyko Tran surfing in the Rip Curl GromSearch compTyko Tran surfing in the Rip Curl GromSearch comp
Ras Tafari Lewis surfing in the Rip Curl GromSearch compRas Tafari Lewis surfing in the Rip Curl GromSearch comp