Billabong Grom Series Finale Meets Mount Maunganui

After an early season postponement, the final event of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge will take place at Mount Maunganui this weekend (11 – 12 March 2017) the traditional starting point of New Zealand’s popular junior surfing series.

The summer drought of waves forced the initial postponement but this weekend there will be no shortage of swell at Tay Street, despite the heavens also forecasted to open up.  The adverse weather has not stopped near record levels of participants entering the final event of the series, all surfers keen to finish on a high.

At least half a dozen local Bay of Plenty surfers are in with a chance of winning the series in their respective divisions ranging from Under 20 through to Under 14 for both boys and girls.

The biggest challenge will be for Callum Chuter (Tauranga) and Jonas Tawharu (Mnt) to peg back front runners and winners of the first two events Harrison Whiteside (Chch) and Taylor Hutchison (Rag).  The Bay surfers will need to place in the top two if they are to win the overall series which is being led by Daniel Farr (Tara) who is away competing internationally.  A win by either Whiteside or Hutchison will crush the title hopes of Chuter and Tahwaru.

More favourable chances are given to Mount Maunganui surfers Elin Tawharu (younger sister of Jonas), Dylan Preston and William Van Der Beek. 

Above: Young Raglan surfer Brie Bennett - Photo: Cory NZ Surfing Magazine

Tawharu holds a slight lead over Saffi Vette (Gis) in the girls division while Preston and Van Der Beek will want to overtake the absent Elliot Brown (Dun) and claim the title.  It just so happens that both divisions are the most tightly contested so one slip up and a finals berth missed will dash title hopes.

Hamilton surfer Caleb Cutmore also stands in the way of series titles for Bay surfers after winning the National Championships earlier in the year and bouncing back to form with a win in New Plymouth last weekend.

With two runner-up finishes in the Under 14 Boys Division, Tom Butland (Oakura) has big hopes of a series win with a good result this weekend.  The powerful young surfer has been a standout all series and could have had a bigger lead if his two finals performances had gone his way. 

Butland will be chased down by the winner of the Piha event, Tom Robinson (Whangarei) and Kora Cooper who has won three of the four events he has contested this season.

In the Under 14 Girls Division it is another Oakura surfer – Ariana Shewry, who goes in to the final event evenly matched with Brie Bennett (Rag).  It is likely that the highest placed surfer this weekend will walk away with the overall series win.  That is, unless their opponents can put in a season best performance to knock them off the podium.

Action will take place at Tay Street from 8am – 5pm daily with two big days of surfing required to complete the event.  Please note that there is a local triathlon being held on Sunday morning and Marine Parade will be closed to traffic from 6am – 11am.  All competitors, spectators and families will need to park in the adjacent streets until the road is opened at 11am.  Pedestrians need to take extra care when crossing the road to the event site.

Please see below for current rankings leaders in each of the six divisions contested in the first two events of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge for 2017.

Under 20 Boys Division
1, Daniel Farr (Tara)
2, Harrison Whiteside (ChCh)
3, Taylor Hutchison (Rag)
4, Callum Chuter (Tau)
5, Jonas Tawharu (Mnt)

Under 17 Boys Division
1, Elliott Brown (Dun)
2, Dylan Preston (Mnt)
3, William Van der Beek (Mnt)
4, Conor McLennan (Chch)
5, Caleb Cutmore (Ham)

Under 14 Boys Division
1, Tom Butland (Tara)
2, Tom Robinson (Whngrei)
3, Kora Cooper (Rag)
4, Josef Jungwirth (Rag)
5, Finn Vette (Gis)

Under 20 Girls Division
1, Claudia Fraser (Auck)
2, Billie Scott (Whangarei)
3, Isabella Woolleston (Chch)
4, Liberty Bradshaw (Auck)
5, Britt Kindred (Muri)
5, Raiha Ensor (Mnt)

Under 17 Girls Division
1, Elin Tawharu (Mnt)
2, Saffi Vette (Gis)
3, Tiana - Breeze de Mooij (Mnt)
4, Gabrielle Paul (Auck)
5, Aimee Brown (Auck)

Under 14 Girls Division
1, Brie Bennett (Rag)
2, Ariana Shewry (Tara)
3, Natasha Gouldsbury (Levin)
4, Hannah King (Gis)
5, Anna Brock (Mnt)