In a do-or-die three days of surfing, both the Rip Curl Gromsearch #5 and the Rip Curl Gromsearch National Finals were decided in challenging conditions at Lakey Peak, Dompu, Sumbawa.
After four thrilling Gromsearch series competitions held earlier in the year in Lombok, Java, Bali, and Sumatra, Friday November 4th kicked off the fifth and last of the Gromsearch series at Lakey Peak. This was the 2016 competitor’s last chance to qualify for the Gromsearch National finals that would take place over the weekend at the same spot and decide the crowning of the 2016 Gromsearch National Champions by Sunday afternoon. It would be these Champions who would be going on to the International finals to represent Indonesia against the best young surfers in the world.
Gromsearch series #5: Friday, November 4th, saw some of the most high voltage surfing of the entire 3 day weekend. Feeling more like a qualifier than the last of the 2016 Gromsearch series, amped competitors paddled out for one last shot at a spot in the National Finals. Though the 3-4 foot conditions were smaller than usual, the famed Lakey Peak was still doing its thing, offering equal opportunity on both the left and the right.
The roster was a list of Grom superstars that covered the entire archipelago with surfers like Ketut Agus, Raju Sena and Rio Waida representing Bali, Obos
Protogo and Amir Hamzah surfing for Lombok, Riky Fauzi for Java, Asep Setiawan for Sumatra and local darlings Armansyah and Bronson Meidy representing the home Sumbawan crowd. Though all the surfing was electric, it was no surprise that top performers like local Bronson Meidy and Bali’s Taina Izquierdo, fresh from her Surftime female surfer of the year award, led the hungry field of surfers into the weekend’s action.
At the end of the day and Gromsearch #5, the field was whittled down to the hottest 62 under 16 year old surfers in Indonesia, all dreaming of the opportunity for greatness that the weekend Nationals had on offer.
Gromsearch National Finals, Saturday November 5-6: Thankfully, Saturday and Sunday greeted the surfers with slightly larger conditions, giving the eager filed a better chance to stretch out their maneuvers and repertoire’s. And not surprisingly, wild aerial attempts ruled the day and the judging. By sunrise Saturday, a large partisan crowd of over 500 friends and family showed up to cheer on their favorite local surfers, giving the event plenty of grandeur as the opening ceremonies began with a stunning traditional dance.
In attendance were such luminaries as Dompu Vice Regent, Bapak Ariffudin SH. and the Head of the Tourism Department of Dompu District, Ibu Hj. Sri Suzanna M.Si. It seems surfing tourism and environmentalism in Sumbawa is taken very seriously and will be the order of the day for years to come, another great influence that these Gromsearch competitions bring to local regions.
But as the first heat horn blew, it was the waves themselves that commanded the complete attention of the 62 stoked young competitors who took to the water in one blazing performance after another.
By Sunday the finals were set. The Girls were up first. Laying everything on the line for a shot at the big time was Java’s Dhea Natasya, who came charging out of the gate and never looked back. Exuding complete confidence and control over the tough conditions, Dhea’s impeccable wave selection and smooth, powerful maneuvers became the standard to beat. Her opponent, Bali’s Kailani Johnson, put in a courageous performance with her tube-hungry style and famed cutback. This young goofy-foot was surfing with a vengeance. But in the end it just wasn’t enough to overtake the dominant Dhea Nayasya, our new Gromsearch National Champion.
Best friends Taina Izquierdo and Cinta Hansel seemed to have difficulties from the start of their earlier semifinal heats against the finalists. Though both were favored to win, both did not advance into the man-on-man finals against Natasya and Johnson. Wave selection was key in the semi’s and there just didn’t seem to be enough to go around for these two gals from the Bukit.
“I was surfing to win” said an exhausted Taina Izquierdo, “But sometimes the momentum is just impossible to get ahead of. It was Dhea’s day from the get go…but I did my best and the event was so great that I still have a smile on my face”.
Cinta Hansel, this year’s ASC Champion had to also watch it slip away. “It has been such a great year with these Gromsearch Comps, I have nothing to complain about. I think Dhea is a great Champion and she will make us all proud at the International Gromsearch. So I’m ok with my result and look forward to what the next year will bring. Go Dhea!”.
The anticipation for the Boys grand final had the reefside tower rocking back and forth as the competitors took to the water. Rip Curl’s Head Judge and top pro surfer Pepen Hendrik actually had to call for order of the chaotic scene before the finals could start. “It was Gladiator time”, Said Hendrik, “It reminded all of us older guys of just how much these Gromsearch’s mean to the kids. We all got our start in these contests and I was proud to be part of the legacy this year. The surfing was so professional with these under 16 year olds…it blew our minds”.
Bali’s new star Ketut Agus and Bali’s favored-to-win Rio Waida sat shoulder to shoulder for the first few nerve racking minutes of the man-on-man final. Both scanning the horizon for what they hoped would be the winning waves. It was Ketut Agus who started the festivities and set a bar with a blazing series of hacks and turns, generating surprising speed given the smaller conditions. With two air reverses under his belt, it was Ketut who was far ahead going into the middle portion of the final.
It seemed like forever before Rio Waida was even able to answer. But when he did, it made all the difference. Surfing with the power and maturity of someone twice his age, Rio began his patient campaign like a seasoned pro and just plain wore Ketut down with two solid scores, eventually taking the win and earning the champion’s crown in the closing moments of the Gromsearch National Final.
It was a heartbreaking finish for Ketut, but he was all smiles and congratulations on the podium as he accepted his second place trophy with class. A testimony to how these Gromsearch contests encourage not only the best surfing that these young athletes can muster, but also their finest sportsmanship.
And finally, for the first time in the events long history, Rip Curl also held a special “Supergrom” heat. This for surfers under 10 years old. “The Gromsearch’s are all about the future” Says Marketing Director James Hendy, “And with the highest level of performances in these comps coming from younger and younger surfers, we thought this year that the Super Groms would be a great way to ensure inspiration for the next generation. Plus…it was fun to see them out there, because to these little guys the surf was well overhead!”
Rajoe Joey Barrel won for “Best Maneuver”. Sinar Tandjung took the tricky “Most Innovative” award. The youngest Competitor in the contest, Fajari, took a tremendous spill over the falls to earn the “Best Wipeout” and a kinetic Solin won for “Best overall Wave.
“We feel honored to have returned to Lakey Peak for our Gromsearch series #5 and our National finals this year”, continued Hendy, “Lakey Peak holds a special place in our hearts and the waves are so perfect, no matter what size, that it allows the Gromsearch to live up to its name as an inspiration to Indonesia’s best young surfers. The surfing is always insane and this year was no different. These contests are proof that high performance Indonesian surfing will be in good hands for generations to come”.
Champions Rio Waida and Dhea Natasya will be automatically seeded into the International Grand Finals to be held at a secret Search location yet to be revealed in 2017.
Real surf, real contests, real winners and a fantastic grand prize that could help launch an international professional surfing career, this year’s Gromsearch series and National finals once again set the bar for Indonesia’s promising future on surfing’s international stage.