Gromfest goes global
By STEVE SPINKS and KELLIE O'BRIEN
PERUVIAN Under-13 National champion Carlos Zapata was one of a host of international surfers who stamped their class on the 10th annual Rusty Gromfest at Lennox Head at the weekend.
Zapata impressed spectators with his precise turns and his wave selection as he grabbed a couple of great right-handers yesterday.
He also impressed the judges by picking up 17.5 out of a possible 20 points for his best two rides.
The 12-year-old natural footer speaks no English, but a beaming smile clearly expressed his joy at his first round victory at Gromfest.
Coach Magoo DeLa Rosa, who spoke on Zapata's behalf, said the teenager had come to Australia to specifically experience the tough Gromfest competition.
"The surfing culture is so strong in Australia with such depth of talent," DeLa Rosa said.
"This massive grom competition made it easy to make the decision to bring the Under-13 Peruvian Champion to the Gromfest event."
DeLa Rosa should know.
He's coached some of the best surfers in the world, including women's world champion Sofia Mulanovich.
Kiwis Tim O'Connor, Ryan Hawker, Mathis Smith and Bodhi Whitaker have shown solid form, while Samoan Tanner Deprin put on a very solid showing in the Under-16 boys.
The swell varied one metre to 1.5 metre during the weekend and the grommets excelled, despite the murky flood water run-off.
The Under-12 boys started yesterday morning with Matt Banting (Port Macquarie NSW), Ezra Norris (Sunshine Beach Qld), Dylan Cummings (Noraville NSW), Niki Hoskin (Lennox Head) and Jake Scott (Malabar) winning their heats.
Two-time 12 and Under girl champion Tyler Wright from Culburra Beach is well positioned to make it three in a row and impressed with a blistering performance.
The pocket-rocket threw her board up nice and high at the lip and surfed with speed and power.
NZ sensation Grace Spiers (Whangamatta) was outstanding and will provide the Australian competitors with stiff competition.
The Under-16 boys wrapped up the first round heats with Jesse Adam (Merewether) the overall stand out of Day Two.
A series of vertical power snaps in the pocket opened his account and his clean carving forced him clear of his competitors.
But it was an incredible close-out re-entry and his stylish reverse to finish that left the spectators in awe of the Merewether grom.
South Australia's Teale Vanner (Kangaroo Island) put on a strong showing to win his heat and WA's Shaun Howe (Kalbarri) also surfed well.
A clean tube by Blake Ainsworth (Coolangatta) added to his repertoire at the Gromfest and his growing reputation as one of Australia's best.
New Zealanders Airini Mason, Jessica Welch and Wini Paul won through to the second round in the Under-16 girl division.
However, Aussies Angela Keighran (Mullaway NSW), Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa NSW) and Izzy Chilcott (Tugun QLD) showed enough to suggest their could be some great Trans-Tasman rivalries later in the competition.
The Under-14 girls were the last to leave the beach and the aggressive surfing of Dimity Stoyle (Buderim, Qld) put her in a class all of her own.
She captured lefts and rights and blitzed the heat with no other girl demonstrating such a vertical approach as the athletic young Queenslander.
Other winners in the division included Laura Enever (Narrabeen), Darci Egan (Jan Juc, Victoria), Kirby Wright (Culburra Beach, NSW), Naomi Stevic (Castaways Bch, Qld) and Aurora Ericson (Byron Bay).
Organisers expect similar conditions today with the action starting from 7.30am as the first round-two heats hit the water.