Rip Curl GromSearch National Championship held at Upper Trestles, surfers deliver entertaining performances
By Andrea Swayne
The 2012 edition of the Rip Curl GromSearch series culminated Saturday as the National Finals at Upper Trestles showcased some of the best surfing by 16 and under surfers from across the country.
As the last horn sounded in the finals only one local surfer, San Clemente’s Griffin Colapinto, made a podium appearance to accept his fourth place trophy in the Boys 14U division.
But that doesn’t mean south Orange County wasn’t well represented in the lineup. Quite the contrary.
Kevin Schulz, Colin Deveze and Crosby Colapinto, all of San Clemente, as well as Dana Point’s Lulu Erkeneff, were among the über-talented field of athletes turning in a multitude of exciting performances.
In fact about 50 percent of the entire field of finalists—in all but the 12U division—was made up of PacSun USA Surf Team members, many from the local tri-city area.
The San Juan Capistrano-based national governing body for the sport of amateur surfing, Surfing America, gathered team members for a training session in advance of the event. The caliber of their surfing at the contest spoke volumes of the team’s collective talent as well as the training they’re receiving under the tutelage of coaches Ryan Simmons and Micah Byrne.
“This was some of the best 16 and under surfing I have ever seen at any contest I’ve ever been to. Ever,” said Matt Myers, Rip Curl USA team and productions manager. “Kanoa Igarashi (of Huntington Beach) was an obvious standout, winning both the Boys 14 and 16 and under divisions. Taylor Clark (of Encinitas), one of our team riders, was just a hair short of winning and surfed amazing all day.”
Clark, also a PacSun USA Team member, launched the highest air of the day, a 9-point front side air reverse that earned him the H2O Overdrive Maneuver of the Event award and a $500 prize. On the girls’ side, Hawaii’s Baily Nagy took home the H2O award.
Myers was also quick to praise the other local surfers pointing out that the entire field of competitors shined, making the judges’ decisions a difficult choice between the best of the best.
“All the local kids are great. Not only are they great surfers, they are all great people who come from such great surfing backgrounds, so it was a pleasure to have all of them competing,” Myers said, adding that he was also pleased to hold this year’s event in San Clemente.
“This is our first time holding Nationals here at Upper Trestles and it’s a pretty big deal for us. San Clemente is Rip Curl’s original home in the United States. When the company brought the brand here they came to San Clemente first, so it meant a lot to have it here,” he said.
Although an air of excitement surrounded the venue in the days leading up to the contest, organizers worried whether Mother Nature would cooperate. The Surfline forecast was calling for very small conditions and the morning heats started with small but glassy waves in the 1- to 2-foot range. As the day progressed, competitors were treated to perfectly rippable, head-high waves. And as the waves built, so did the performances. Everything came together to make the event worthy of its prestigious national title awards.
“We really couldn’t have asked for much more—glassy, perfect conditions all day long and some really amazing surfing,” Myers said.
Winners were each awarded a $250 check and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the International GromSearch Final held in conjunction with the 2013 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Australia.
1. Luke Gordon, NC, 13.96
2. Sean Woods, CA, 13.17
3. Tyler Gunter, CA, 8.36
4. Eithan Osbourne, CA, 7.40
1. Kanoa Igarashi, CA, 18.66
2. Nolan Rapoza, CA, 13.67
3. Luke Marks, FL, 11.33
4. Griffin Colapinto, CA, 8.60
1. Tatiana Weston-Webb, HI, 13.90
2. Bailey Nagy, HI, 13.67
3. Meah Collins CA, 12.20
4. Nikki Viesins, FL, 11.30
1. Kanoa Igarashi, CA, 17.57
2. Taylor Clark, CA, 16.33
3. Cam Richards, NC, 15.77
4. Noah Schweizer, FL, 13.40
Boys H2O Overdrive Maneuver of the Event: Taylor Clark ($500)
Girls H2O Overdrive Maneuver of the Event: Bailey Nagy ($500)