By Luke Voogt
Jan Juc and Torquay juniors dominated their home surf on Sunday, winning five out of six age divisions in the long-awaited Rip Curl Gromsearch.
In his final year of competition at the event, Ethan Huxtable went head-to-head with younger rising star and fellow Jan Juc local Willis Droomer in a thrilling 16 and under final.
Despite surfing an age division up, Droomer, 14, challenged his older competitor in a battle viewers described as “an amazing display of aerial manoeuvres” and “innovative surfing”.
In the end Huxtable narrowly came out on top with a 15.50 heat total to Droomer’s 15 in small but clean waves.
Huxtable was thrilled to get the win at the Gromsearch, the first Surfing Victoria event in eight months since COVID-19 restrictions halted competition in March.
“I’m super happy to win after a long break away from competition,” he said.
“It was fun and super competitive going against Willis. He is super innovative with his airs, so it was great to get the win over him.”
The top three from each division will progress to the national final at URBNSURF wave pool in Melbourne next year.
“I’m stoked to be going to the national final at URBNSURF,” Huxtable said.
“We have been spending some time up there since the lockdown ended and it’s such a perfect wave.”
Asher Lens (Torquay) finished third on 10.67 points while Charlie Farrer (Barwon Heads) finished fourth on 9.10.
After the disappointment of a narrow loss in the 16 and under competition, Droomer went on to win the 14 and under final later in the day by more than four points.
In the 16 and under girls, Torquay’s Emily McGettigan claimed “the biggest win” of her career by taking down former Australian champion Ellie Harrison from Barwon Heads.
McGettigan finished on 13.34 points, ahead of Harrison on 12.67.
“This is the biggest win I’ve ever had. It’s really built my confidence,” McGettigan said.
“The conditions were pretty slow out there but there was plenty of opportunity. I’m stoked to take the win.”
Finishing in third and fourth respectively were Mia Huppatz (Jan Juc) and Poppy Corbett (Phillip Island).
In the 14 and under girls Jan Juc’s Isla Huppatz took home the win in an incredible final.
She locked in the only perfect 10-point ride of the weekend on her way to a massive 17.83 heat total.
Jan Juc’s Remy Filer won the 12 and under boys while Shoreham’s Sophie Wilkinson (Shoreham) won the girls competition.
16 and Under Girls
1st Emily McGettigan – 13.34
2nd Ellie Harrison – 12.67
3rd Mia Huppatz – 8.57
4th Poppy Corbett – 7.30
16 and Under Boys
1st Ethan Huxtable – 15.50
2nd Willis Droomer – 15.00
3rd Asher Lens – 10.67
4th Charlie Farrer – 9.10
14 and Under Girls
1st Isla Huppatz – 17.83
2nd Sarsha Pancic – 9.84
3rd Sonia Seuren – 6.90
4th Jess McGettigan – 5.36
14 and Under Boys
1st Willis Droomer – 13.86
2nd Lucas Hickson – 9.80
3rd Jack Basset – 9.37
4th Isaiah Norling – 7.03
12 and Under Girls
1st Sophie Wilkinson – 10.78
2nd Sara Hickson – 9.30
3rd Maeve Wilkinson – 7.76
4th Lillian Bassed – 2.76
12 and Under Boys
1st Remy Filer – 14.57
2nd Jerry Kelly – 12.64
3rd Taj McPhee – 10.07
4th Archy Wallace – 6.88