Rory Dace wins at Rip Curl GromSearch

St Francis Bay local Rory Dace set Victoria Bay on fire over the weekend as he powered his way to victory at the first Rip Curl GromSearch of 2022.

Victoria Bay set the scene with highly contestable 3-4 ft waves pouring down the point all day.

The Rip Curl GromSearch was moved to Victoria Bay on the opening day after a shark visited the original contest site, Inner Pool at Mossel Bay.

Victoria Bay proved to be an excellent location for the event. The contestants were blessed with windless conditions and consistent waves the entire final day.

U12 Girls:

Leah Lepront snatched victory from Jordan van Eek, with Gabriella Von Mollendorff in third. Maya Malherbe and Jasmine Venter charged hard as solid sets poured through but finished fourth and fifth.


Leah Lepront © Louis Wulff


U12 Boys:

Hot young goofy-footer Mikey Todd was the man of the moment in the U12 division, with Ben Esterhuyse in second. A 6.5 and a 6.57 towards the end of the heat gave Todd a commanding lead, and Esterhuyse just couldn’t find enough to climb into the lead.

Callum Loftus and Liam LeRoux filled the minor slots in third and fourth in this spirited final.


Mikey Todd © Louis Wulff


14 Girls:

Louise Lepront dominated the final, with a few excellent rides in the early moments of the heat. She was in the lead from the beginning and didn’t slow down throughout the final.

She kept busy throughout the final, and Emily Jenkinson was chasing hard. Still, she couldn’t find enough to draw any closer to the heat leader. Taylor Emslie was third, with Sophia Jackson and Nina Bone filling the minor slots.


Louise Lepront © Louis Wulff


U14 Boys: 

The U14 Boys division has some red-hot talent and some intense rivalries going. This division is a strong indicator of who our top performers will be in the future, and these surfers did not disappoint during this final battle.

Cooper Smith and Rory Dace swapped the lead a few times in this nailbiter, and in the end, Dace snatched the victory with a great last wave.

A three-turn combo and a classy close-out finish saw the judges award him 7.0 points and the win. Matt Canning struggled to find the good ones and finished third with much-improved Massimo Bienz in fourth place.


Rory Dace © Louis Wulff


U16 Girls:

Sarah Scott picked up such a bomb at the beginning of this heat and cracked two big turns on what was one of the bigger waves of the heat to open with a 7.67 score.

She was in the lead from that moment onwards, and none of the other girls managed to put on a strong enough campaign to put her under any threat.

She sealed the deal with a 7.33, resulting in an unassailable 15 point score tally. Anastasia Venter tried valiantly but ended second, with Zia Hendricks and Gemma Hanafey third and fourth.


Anastasia Venter © Louis Wulff


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U16 Boys:

It was a popular win for the always-smiling Joel Fowles in this all-goofy final. He surfed brilliantly on his backhand with some fast snaps and lip-climbs to score a 5.50 early in the heat and a 5.83 to finish off.

David Emslie was chasing a very attainable 5.51 score but couldn’t find the right wave as the time ticked down, and he had to settle for second place on the hooter. Fast young goofy-footer Levi Epenotos was third with Josh Van Wyk in fourth.


Joel Fowles © Louis Wulff


U18 Girls:

Star performer Sarah Scott did the double with her win in the U18 girls in a spirited final. Anastasia Venter was hungry for a win, but Scott once again dominated from the start.

She held onto the lead throughout. Venter had a good contest, though, making dual finals and two silvers, showing herself as the contender that many are watching.

Scott’s performances on the very contestable and rippable walls of Victoria Bay during the entire event were smooth and powerful, and her rail game was strong throughout. Louise Lepront was third, and Gabrielle Herbst came fourth.


Sarah Scott © Louis Wulff


U18 Boys:

The waves were pouring through, and these surfers were primed for the premier final. The scene was set for a battle to the end. Connor Slijpen missed a beat and surfed an absolute bomb all the way through to the pier, but the heat had yet to start, and he to paddle back out to the lineup to reset.

Luke Thompson kicked into gear and quickly unleashed a series of powerful turns and carves to bank a respectable 8.33. Still, Slijpen, undoubtedly smarting from his unscored wave, went into a high-risk full rotation into the flats and stuck it with relative ease to the cheers of the crowds and a 9.33 score. Game on!


Connor Slijpen © Louis Wulff


Thompson’s answer was another high-scoring ride, including radical turns and carves with a clean finish and a 7.33 to give him the win.

Brad Scott was a bit unlucky, failed to find two good waves during the final, and placed third, with Joshua Myburgh in fourth.


All the winners At The Rip Curl GromSearch Presented By Sea Harvest © Louis Wulff


The Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Sea Harvest was an incredible event. The move to Victoria Bay was a good decision.

“Thanks to the Victoria Bay locals who gave up their surf spot at almost no notice to see the show go on.

The vibe throughout the event was very good amongst the junior surfing fraternity. Rip Curl can be proud of an event well run by Surfing South Africa, which stoked out the groms to no end,” said Craig Jarvis in a statement.

The next Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Sea Harvest will occur at Magnatubes in JBay on 23/34 July. The final event will be at Scottburgh on the 24/25 of September.

The Rip Curl GromSearch series allows kids to compete against the best surfers in the same age bracket from their country.

This format provides these groms with an insight into a life of competitive surfing and gives them the invaluable experience of surfing and competing in different waves around the country.

The GromSearch 2022 consists of three Premier SAST events, with 1,000 points going to the winners and prizemoney per premier events.