By KELLIE O'BRIEN
A BLISTERING 18.5-out-of-20 performance by Culburra Beach's Owen Wright in the Under-16 boys division was the talk of the town yesterday as the 10th Rusty Gromfest continued at Lennox Head.
Wright showed the kind of form that has already made him a two-time Gromfest champion ? he previously won both the Under-12s and 14s competitions ? in reaching today's semi-finals.
The semis will see the remaining 32 grommets out of an original 128 enter the surf first-up this morning.
Wright's performance was helped by good offshore winds and a consistent easterly swell which made conditions ideal, but the continuing flow of floodwaters down the Richmond River is taking some massive trees and debris towards the river mouth. Watch out grommets!
The Northern Rivers Gromfest contingent is also going strong.
Byron Bay's Nick Colbey and Lennox Head's Stuart Kennedy are into the Under-16 boys semi-finals.
Ellis Ericson, Garrett Parkes and Kurt King, all from Byron Bay, are all through to the next round, as are Lennox Head's Tom Gordon and Tom Steele.
Niki Hoskin, from Lennox Head, also managed to bump Peruvian Under-13 champion Carlos Zapata into second place in the Under-12 boys standings, but both are still alive in the division.
Isabella Springis from Lennox Head has also made it through to the semis of the Under-12s girls competition.
Competitors in the Under-16 girls event yesterday showed some radical and powerful moves to advance into today's finals.
Tiana McNeven (Tugun), Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa), Izzy Chilcott (Tugun), Eliza Roberts (Cronulla), Ashleigh Smith (Cabarita), Airini Mason (NZ), Angela Keighran (Mullaway) and Alexandra Coleborn (Maroochydore) are all in contention.
The Under-14 boys were outstanding performers yesterday and the powerful, radical turns in the pressure-cooker situation separated the contenders from the rest.
High-scoring waves by New Zealand's Ryan Hawker, Narrabeen's Davey Cathels, Merewether's Wes Bainbridge and Dean Bowen from Gerroa showed them leading the way in the division.
The Under-14 girls have also been blowing minds by surfing vertically in the pocket and smashing waves to bits.
Among those in the semis are Laura Enever (Narrabeen), Claudia Kiernan (Wamberal), Darci Egan (Jan Juc), Kelly Kerr (Marcoola), Kirby Wright (Culburra Beach), Phillipa Anderson (Newcastle), Dimity Stoyle (Buderim) Quincy Moore (Castaways Beach).
The finals will be held this afternoon with a beach presentation and birthday cake for all 2005 Rusty Gromfest champions.