This years 2023 Rip Curl GromSearch started with a week of wild forecasts, swinging winds, raging swells & left us all wondering what exactly we would be dealing with. The surf gods were on our side – we were blessed with two days of sunshine and surf in an epic launch of the UK comp season, the groms on absolute top form, frothing to be back on the beach and donning the contest rash vests.

Contest organisers were dynamic with the event call, we knew it was ON but where exactly what a constant flux. On Friday the call for Saturday was made, to run at Great Western Beach, a beautiful amphitheatre cove in the town, as we sought out conditions that would be favourable for all competitors. A hive of activity and excitement on Saturday morning, families and friends set up on the beach in glorious Spring sunshine as 3ft sets rolled into the bay. The surfers put on a show, and every surfer got to get in the water to rack up scores.

With a dropping swell, Sunday the contest moved to Fistral Beach for an epic day two. The surfing was jam packed – the competition was fierce but on equal measure friendships formed between the young surfers who span the UK.
The U12 girls patiently waited all of Saturday for their chance to shine and impress the judges. A crew of girls who have competed in the Junior Series last year entered, but from the get-go it was Isabella O’Reilly from Northern Ireland showing the level. Charging through she impressed with 10.83 in the final and claimed Champion, Summer-Marie Moore placing second, a regular at the Grom Search comps, & young Kira Connolly in third, following her older brother’s Sebastian’s footsteps in competitive surfing.

It was ace to have 13 girls in the U14’s, including the tight knitted Newquay crew. Lila Skinner clearly wanted to add to her champion titles, placing 1st in the final. This age group show some talented surfing, and offer inspiration to the younger lot coming through, both in skills and personality, always congratulating one another!
Tight competition in the U16 girls, with Boe Howell and Katie David earning impressive scores in the Semi-finals, but when it came to final, it was Eva Blackford who found the open-faced waves and got the scores in and took champion.

U12 boys are full groms, you’ll always spot them on the beach having a great time with mischievous smiles. In the water, the focus turns on. Heats were tight from quarters through to finals, Kamiel Dereave placing on top, with Harvey Waters chasing after previous heat wins but as the buzzer went placing 2nd.

The U14s was a busy round of 22 surfers, Dylan Roose drawing attention of Team England coaches, impressing all the way through the contest and rightfully earning champion. It was tight between Isaac Friend and Reuben Wakely, separated by just 0.44, Isaac clinching 2nd. Sebastian Connolly placed 4th, him, and his sister Kira both proudly taking home trophies. We’ve also got to mention Wilbur Prisk – sadly he had to withdraw due to a broken wrist but spent the entire weekend cheering on his mates and supporting the whole U14 contingent for two big days of action.

The U16 boys was set to be an exciting division, many of these surfers represent their countries at international comps. Fynn Gillespie had his focus from the beginning to claim Champion for a consecutive year which he did with style and flair. Reen Bowden-Inoue was just behind, as these two surfers met in the quarter-finals and again in the finals, Reen coming out 2nd. Finley Donovan and Jago Tasker on the same track, just 0.3 separation, Finley just about taking 3rd on a buzzer beater heat.

Seth Hulley, Oakley Sports Marketing Manager for Surf EMEA, one of the major sponsors of this year’s series said: “On behalf of Oakley, we are proud of being the official eyewear partner to the Rip Curl Grom Search Series. The surf delivered for the groms, who put on a great display of surfing in the first event of the series and a positive weekend all round engaging with the gen z and Oakleys target market. Thanks to the event organizers on a well-run event and to Rip Curl on another great event on the Grom Search calendar.”

We caught up with Rip Curl who it’s a honour to deliver this event for. Coline Merlet, Event and Partnership Manager for Europe, who spent the weekend with us in Newquay, said “As the ultimate surfing company, we are always thrilled to witness the surfing skills & levels of the groms in each country. The UK youth certainly did not disappoint on the weekend, and we saw some great heats going down in ever changing conditions.

Running the GromSearch series every year is a great way for us to participate in the development of the sport. Indeed, our first intention is to offer a platform for all Under 16 surfers to show their skills, progress and competitiveness, all in a great atmosphere.

Beyond the competition, the weekend event was a great experience for participants, families and spectators alike thanks to Oakley, 2 minutes foundation & Pura Vida with a mix of beach games, product presentation and environmental awareness.

The Skindog surfboards test centre was a great success, giving everyone the chance to test out the local shapers’s surfboards and various FCS fin sets.

Finally, the Oakley highest score total prize of 500 €uros made the very talented Fynn Gillespie a very happy grown up grom.

We are looking forward to see all of the winners perform in the GromSearch European finals in Anglet in August 2023!”.

A huge thanks to Rip Curl for continuing their support to youth surfing with GromSearch. Thanks also to event partners, Oakley, 2 minute foundation, Pura Vida, Skindog Surfboards and FCS. A mega thanks to the beach owners for flexibility during the changing forecasts, Adam Griffiths and the team at Great Western Beach, and Jenny Briant and crew at Fistral Beach. Without our safety cover it wouldn’t be possible to run so a big thanks to ERA Adventures. Thank you also to all event staff and media team who work tirelessly behind the scenes to bring our events to life.