Eight new champions were crowned today (Wednesday, July 18) at the 2018 Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Vissla following a morning of stacked heats in challenging one-foot-surf.
Te Kehukehu Butler (NZL) claimed his first WSL Pro Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) victory for 2018, taking out the coveted Men’s Pro Junior division. The powerful Kiwi natural-footer didn’t let the small waves stop him from posting big scores, nailing an excellent 8.27 scoring wave to get the edge over his opposition. To sweeten the win, Butler was greeted by the traditional Maori Haka when he made his way to the beach.
‘I’m feeling great after that,’ said Butler. ‘I thought I was done for in that heat, but as I sat in the hole in the break, a wider wave came to me which allowed me to get the win. I’ve been doing this event in Lennox since I was really young and next year I’ll be too old to do it. I’m going to miss hanging up the top in the park before my heats and playing rugby, so it’s a little sad, but it’s definitely a good way to finish up my time competing here.’
Hailing from only half-an-hour south of Lennox Head, Callum Robson (Evans Head, NSW) showed his knowledge of northern NSW beachbreak conditions, claiming the runner-up finish behind Butler. Robson led the charge for a solid portion of the heat but was unable to claw back the lead after Butler posted the aforementioned 8.27. Robson finished the final with a 12.74 two-wave heat total to his name.
‘This event really was one of my last chances to get a good result,’ said Robson. ‘I struggled in the last two junior events so I really wanted a good result here. Plus, it’s only half-an-hour from my house so it felt more special to come runner-up so close to home. Hopefully, I can carry a bit of the momentum into the final event in Cronulla.’
Nyxie Ryan (Lennox Head, NSW) claimed her maiden JQS victory, winning the Women’s division on her homebreak. Surfing well-beyond her years, Ryan nailed an array of different turns to post an excellent 8.23 wave score as well as a 7.1 to amass a 15.33 two-wave heat total. After only competing in two other JQS events prior to the Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Vissla, Ryan’s win will allow her to make a significant jump in the 2018 rankings.
‘This is one of the best results I’ve had,’ said Ryan. ‘My goal was to just make the final, so to go one step further and win feels amazing. Having the support of Le-Ba Boardriders here made the win so much more special. I’ve only done a few Pro Juniors this year and I’m heading down to Cronulla for the final event of the year, so it would be nice to get another decent result down there.’
Surfing in her fifth JQS final for 2018, Zahli Kelly’s (Cabarita, NSW) runner-up finish looks like cementing her position at the top of the rankings. Kelly put on a valiant effort over the course of the final, notching up an impressive 14.9 two-wave heat total, but was unable to find the required 7.34 wave score to take away Ryan’s lead.
‘I’m pretty happy with this result,’ said Kelly. ‘I’m not 100%, but I think making the final means that I may have locked in a spot into the 2018 World Junior Championship as well, which was my main goal.’
Having taken out the Occy Grom Comp on the Gold Coast last week, Lennox Chell (Avoca, NSW) managed to make it a doubleheader, claiming the 16-and-Under Boys division. Chell found a handful of longer running waves in the relatively wave-starved lineup to post a 14.6 heat total and take the victory ahead of Victoria’s Xavier Huxtable (Jan Juc, Vic) by a 2.10 margin.
After an unprecedented early knockout in the Pro Junior, Summa Longbottom (Kirra, Qld) made sure she made up for any lost ground taking out the 16-and-Under Girls division. In the relatively low-scoring affair, Longbottom got the nod with an average 10.00 heat total for a handful of decent carves and snaps.
Marlon Harrison (Coolangatta, Qld) ensured another title would be heading north to the Gold Coast, taking out the 14-Boys division. Harrison posted an 11.73 two-wave heat total for a series of forehand snaps which propelled him in front of Ethan Huxtable (Jan Juc, Vic) by a 1.49 margin.
Jazz Wylie (Jan Juc, Vic) ensured a female title would return to Victoria’s Surf Coast, claiming the 14-Girls division. Wylie amassed a 9.33 two-wave heat total for a handful of backhand snaps which propelled her in front of her fellow finalists and allowed her to snatch the win.
Willis Droomer’s (Jan Juc, Vic) ability to perform an innovative mix of aerial maneuvers proved to be his advantage in the 12-Boys as he claimed top honours. Droomer executed a barrage of innovative moves that allowed him to post a 14.83 two-wave heat total and claim the win ahead of fellow standout Fletcher Kelleher (Freshwater, NSW) who finished in the runner-up spot.
At only nine-years-old, local surfer Ocea Curtis (Lennox Head, NSW) came up against much older competitors in the 12-and-Under Girls division. However, Curtis’ local knowledge paid off as she nailed turn-after-turn to post a 12.00 heat total and take the victory in front of countless local supporters who chaired her up the beach after the victory.
The six-day event ran from 13 July –18 July and comprised of a World Surf League (WSL) sanctioned Pro Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) event as well as an elite competition for promising grommets in the 12, 14 and 16 year age divisions.
In a similar vein to preceding years – where the event attracted surfers from ten different countries – a full international field competed in 2018 with surfers coming from as far away as Europe, USA and Japan to make up a field of more than 220 surfers across all divisions.
All event divisions were broadcast live on skullcandyozgromopen.com.au
The 2018 Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Vissla is proudly supported by Skullcandy, Vissla, Ballina Shire Council, Le-Ba Boardriders, WSL and Surfing NSW.
WSL Pro Junior
1 – Te Kehukehu Butler (NZL)
2 – Callum Robson (Evans Head, NSW)
3 – Xavier Huxtable (Jan Juc, Vic)
4 – Dextar Muskens (Tweed Heads, NSW)
1 – Nyxie Ryan (Lennox Head, NSW)
2 – Zahli Kelly (Cabarita, NSW)
3 – Alyssa Lock (Tweed Heads, NSW)
4 – Molly Picklum (Shelly Beach, NSW)
1 – Lennox Chell (Avoca, NSW)
2 – Xavier Huxtable (Jan Juc, Vic)
3 – Blake Ireland (Coolangatta, Qld)
4 – Taj Stokes (Buddina, Qld)
1 – Summa Longbottom (Kirra, Qld)
2 – Nyxie Ryan (Lennox Head, NSW)
3 – Molly Picklum (Shelly Beach, NSW)
4 – Raya Campbell (Coolangatta, Qld)
1 – Marlon Harrison (Coolangatta, Qld)
2 – Ethan Huxtable (Jan Juc, Vic)
3 – Duke Wrencher (Byron Bay, NSW)
4 – Touma Cameron (Byron Bay, NSW)
1 – Jazz Wylie (Jan Juc, Vic)
2 – Imogen Elliot (Port Noalunga, SA)
3 – Cali Barrett (Banora Point, NSW)
4 – Astrid Osborn (Bilgola, NSW)
1 – Willis Droomer (Jan Juc, Vic)
2 – Fletcher Kelleher (Freshwater, NSW)
3 – Sol Gruendling (Queenscliff, NSW)
4 – Ashton Pignat (Coolum, Qld)
1 – Ocea Curtis (Lennox Head, NSW)
2 – Tyla Hurst (Port Kembla, NSW)
3 – Stella Green (Buddina, Qld)
4 – Jahly Stokes (Buddina, Qld)