Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia — After an epic day of big storm surf waves at Bells Beach and progressive surfing performances by a crop of the world’s best young surfers, Dylan Lightfoot (17, South Africa) and Tatiana Wetson-Webb (15, Kauai, Hawaii) emerged victorious at the Rip Curl International GromSearch.
In the Boys Final, Lightfoot scored an 8.5 and an 8.43 on two impressive rides which saw him tear apart the burly Bells waves on offer. Brazil’s Filipe Toledo was nipping at his heels the entire Final.
After demolishing his third wave for a 9.33, Toledo nearly caught a potentially heat-winning wave in the dying seconds, but came up less than a point short with a 6.73 score. Cameron Richards (USA) finished third, with a total heat score of 13.00, and Tommy Boucaut (AUS) took fourth with 8.93.
“This is definitely one of the biggest victories of my life,” Lightfoot said after being sprayed down with Red Bull by his fellow competitors on the winner’s podium. “It was very tough out there today. The waves were very powerful and looked a lot better from the beach.”
With his victory, Lightfoot earned a wildcard into the 2012 Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang Invitational, one of the surfing world’s most prestigious invitational events. He will face a field of the world’s best tube riders when the event takes place at Bali’s iconic left barrel later this year (July 15-Aug 26).
“I still can’t believe I’m going to surf in the Padang Cup,” said Lightfoot, who was competing in his first-ever International GromSearch event. “I’m really excited for that. It still doesn’t seem real.”
The Rip Curl GromSearch series is an International Series for male and female surfers aged 16 years and under. Over 2 000 groms compete in the series worldwide and it all comes down to the final 8 competitors representing their country at the International final.