The 2017 Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Banzai Bowls season kicked-off back in June with a pumping 6 ft. South swell during qualifier event #1 at HB Pier. The tour then traveled to Hawaii, Florida, and North Carolina, scoring fun surf at each location. The season wrapped up at iconic Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, CA with firing 6-8 ft., occasional 10 ft. surf. It truly was a GromSearch season for the record books as the 5 event series was graced with high quality surf and head turning performances from the North America’s top junior talent.
With an invite-only heat draw featuring 64 surfers arriving from America’s East Coast, the Caribbean Islands, Panama, all stretches of California, and Hawaii Islands, the diverse field arrived ready for battle, as four national champions were to be crowned. The champions of the Boys and Girls 16/U divisions scored themselves an all-expense paid trip to compete in the prestigious RCGS International Final, to be held on ‘The Search,’ at an undisclosed location in the Spring of 2018.
With time winding down and only needing a small score, Cole Houshmand (San Clemente, CA) did exactly what was needed to overcome his rival and current heat leader Eithan Osborne (Ventura, CA). With a score of 5.33 to back up his heat high opening ride of a 7.17 it was enough for Houshmand to claim the 2017 RCGS National Title, $500 cash, and a trip on The Search!
“It was an awesome day! From the start to the finish the waves were absolutely firing. Some of the best Steamer Lane I’ve ever surfed,” described Houshmand, “This win is very unique and huge for me! Unlike most events that you can just sign up for, this one you have to qualify for, which means you’ve proven yourself. And the fact that it’s held at such a good wave that showcases our best surfing is super rad. This ranks as one of the top wins in my life!”
Houshmand touched on the International Final: “I am looking forward to its unique destination and the traveling part too. I feel like Rip Curl always finds the best spots to hold the International event, I’m already looking forward to it and can’t wait to represent the US region!”
The Girls 16/U final also came down to the final wave of the heat as Kauai’s Keala Tomoda-Bannert did just enough to overcome Kirra Pinkerton (San Clemente, CA). Tomoda-Bannert was a stand-out all day long in the overhead surf as her long drawn out frontside carves wowed the judging panel. She will be looking to add her name to the prestigious Girl’s International Winner’s list that features fellow Hawaiians, Brisa Hennessy, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Malia Manuel, and Alana Blanchard.
Last year’s defending International and National champion, was once again a double finalist at Steamer Lane. Kade Matson (San Clemente, CA) finished 4th in the 16/U, however as he’s still a youngster albeit a towering 6ft plus tall frame, he took a convincing win in the 14/U division. Matson’s power game fit perfectly to the waves on hand as he recorded the day’s highest heat score of 18.56 as he took the individual award for the …LOST Surfboards High Heat Total, winning a custom shaped Matt ‘Mayhem’ Biolas surfboard.
It was a crazy day for the Boy’s 14/U 3rd place finisher, Robert Grilho III (Oahu, HI). RG3 as he’s known, took a fin to his head and suffered a nasty cut, but after a visit to urgent care he returned and surfed the final. A gladiator performance for Grilho as he was awarded the Banzai Bowl’s Maneuver of the Event for a powerful front-side hack that scored a high 9 point ride ($500).
Waves were in the double overhead scale for most men, but for the 12/U boys it was easily 3x overhead. Diego Ferri (Oahu, HI) needed a 6.1 with only seconds remaining to take his first ever National Title. The horn sounded just as he stood up and Ferri went to work, unleashing a fluid combination of carves and lippers, accompanied by a proud claim to the judges. The wave scored a 7.0 and Ferri was chaired up the stairs with the biggest smile of the day!
When it was all said and done it would be hard to argue this wasn’t the best GromSearch event in its 14 year North America history. Rip Curl would like to thank its 2017 event sponsors, Banzai Bowls, Flexfit, Dragon Alliance, POSCA, Leus, Hydro Flask, Stance, Surface Corp, …LOST Surfboards, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, as well as Pono Hawaiian Grill and Pleasure Pizza for supporting the National Final.
Be sure to head to Surfline.com to check out post event coverage. You can also be a part of the action by voting for the #SurflineMoment best photo on Surfline’s Facebook page.
We hope to see you again next year when the GromSearch kicks off it’s 2018 season in June at Huntington Beach, CA. For full event coverage, video highlights, photos, and entries head towww.ripcurl.com/gromsearch.
OFFICIAL RESULTS – 2017 RIP CURL GROMSEARCH NATIONAL FINAL PRESENTED BY BANZAI BOWLS
1. Cole Houshmand, San Clemente, CA 12.50 ($500)
2. Eithan Osborne, Ventura, CA 11.00
3. Caleb Crozier, San Diego, CA 9.20
4. Kade Matson, San Clemente, CA 8.10
1. Keala Tomoda-Bannert, Kaui, HI 14.67 ($500)
2. Kirra Pinkerton, San Clemente, CA 14.10
3. Tiare Thompson, La Jolla, CA 10.93
4. Samantha Sibley, San Clemente, CA 7.16
1. Kade Matson, San Clemente, CA 16.17 ($500)
2. Sage Tutterow, Kaui, HI 12.84
3. Robert Grilho III, Oahu, HI 9.36
4. Laird Myers, Virginia Beach, VA 9.26
1. Diego Ferri, Oahu, HI 13.83 ($500)
2. Ryan Huckabee, Flagler Beach, FL 12.83
3. Robbie Goodwin, Cape Cod, MA 8.70
4. Makana Franzman, Oahu, HI 5.00
Banzai Bowls Maneuver of the Event: Robert Grilho III, Oahu, HI ($500)
…LOST Surfboards High Heat Total: Kade Matson, San Clemente, CA – 18.56 points