June 20, 2008: – - The country’s top junior surf stars will start their campaigns for the coveted 2008 Rip Curl Gromsearch presented by Island Tribe titles when the first of four events in the nationwide series for surfers aged 16-and-under gets underway at Dairy Beach in Durban on Saturday.
With R13 500 in prize-money at stake at each event and the top U16 boy and girl earning invitations and air tickets to the Rip Curl Gromsearch International Finals held at Bells Beach in Australia next Easter, this weekend’s event has attracted SA’s best U12, U14 and U16 boys and U14 and U16 girls.
Fireworks are expected in the U16 boys division as Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga), Davey Brand (Kommetjie) and Dane Staples (St Francis Bay), all of whom represented the country at the ISA World Junior champs in France last month, go head to head with the likes of Devin Lane (Umhlanga) and SA team reserve Jacob Mellish (Somerset West) in the 24 strong field.
Likewise in the girls U16 category where Bianca Buitendag (George) and Sarah Baum (Athlone Park) gained valuable experience on the world stage as members of the SA U18 girls team and will be taking on Rip Curl team rider Holly Armstrong, who has swept the boards at U15 level this year, fellow Kommetjie standout Tanika Hoffman and Durban’s Jessica Swart amongst others.
Slade Prestwich (Scottburgh), Mikey Venter (Warner Beach) and the Kommetjie duo of Jarred Veldhuis and Benji Brand will be determined to reach the final of the U14 boys category and earn themselves invitations to the SA Gromsearch Grand Finals ‘somewhere’ in KZN in November while Baum, pint sized Southern KZN rippers Courtenay Ellish and Chanelle Botha will have the same objective in the U14 girls.
And the youngest surfers in the event – the U12 boys – will see the battle for supremacy resumed between Kommetjie kids Benji Brand and Rip Curl rider Max Armstrong with the likes of Jason JJ Harris and Ethan Fletcher (Hout Bay) determined to grab a share of the spoils.
The large swell currently battering the KZN coastline is expected to abate to more manageable proportions by Saturday but organisers have made provision for the first day of the event to be moved to Ushaka Island if conditions are still unruly. Competitors and spectators should meet at the event site at Dairy Beach at 8am on Saturday when a final decision on the venue will be taken.
The Rip Curl Gromsearch series presented by Island Tribe is sanctioned by Surfing South Africa (SSA), the national controlling body for the sport, and forms part of the SSA Pro Surf Tour (PST) with ratings points from each event counting towards the annual PST champions.
Entries for the Mossel Bay and Cape Town events can be made online at surfingsouthafrica.co.za
Dates and venues for the 2008 Rip Curl Gromsearch events presented by Island Tribe are:
Gromsearch #1: Dairy,Dbn: June 21/22
Gromsearch #2: Mossel Bay: Sept 6/7
Gromsearch #3: Cape Town: Sep 27/28
Gromsearch Final: ‘Somewhere’ In Kzn: Nov 1/2