The swell that should’ve hit yesterday was still stuck in the mail, and the surf was probably a good six inches smaller than the previous day. A bit of a disappointment, but conditions were absolutely contestable and the finals day went right ahead as scheduled. The morning went off with a slightly tardy start, but hey, nobody really moves too quickly on Sundays, especially not in Bali. That wasn’t the case with the Australians, as they proceeded to thrash and outsurf their fellow competitors all morning to victories in every division.
The level of surfing by some of the Team from Down Under was way beyond grommethood, right up there on a professional level. Other finalist countries Japan, New Zealand and South Africa all put up a struggle, but in the end succumbed to the might and strategy of the Australians.
In the Roxy Girls Under 19, Laurina McGrath established an early lead, and never took her foot off the gas. McGrath’s biggest worry was fellow Australian Chelsea Georgeson who had an opening ride of 7.67, the highest of the finals, but couldn’t back it up with her two other top wave scores and had to settle for second, needing better than a 8.41 to win. It could also have been due to the long waits between sets, which plagued every final heat throughout the day that drove surfers to catch low scoring inside waves out of desperation.
The first quarter of the Quiksilver Boys Under 18 final could’ve gone either way. Two South Africans, Shawn Gossman and Ruebin Pearce, faced off against the two Australians, Luke Munro and Jock Barnes. The standings were mixed up and constantly changing up until the heat started to wind down, until Luke hooked into two more high scores with big snaps followed by smooth, connecting bottom turns to back up his second wave of 8.83. From then on Luke held a steady grip on first, leaving second up for grabs. The long lulls wreaked havoc on the South Africans as they lost the plot and couldn’t put together anything higher than 6 in the last part of the heat. Jock Barnes slipped into motion and excelled toward the end, his final two waves turning into gems off the drop and allowing him to hack away at them for a 6.17 and an 8.33.
The lulls continued in the Quiksilver Boys Under 16 final, but the surfers still managed to do some damage when precious sets arrived. Great hope rested on Japan’s Kenta Hayashi, newcomer to international competition, as he was the only Asian that made it to the final. It would have made a great fairy-tale ending had Hayashi pulled off a win, but poor wave judgment and inconsistency landed him in fourth. Australian Matt Watson fell victim to South Africa’s Warwick Wright’s sensational backhand blitz on the righthanders and had to be content with third. Australian Clint Kimmins stayed low profile for the start of the heat, sitting alone on a fickle righthander down the beach. It paid off with good starting wave scores until he decided to join the snake pit up the beach. That was his wisest decision of the day, as he lucked into the better sets which he slayed with tight turns in the pocket and throwing big sprays all the way to the beach. You couldn’t have found a gromm more stoked than Kimmins as he strolled up the beach buzzing from his victory.
Team South Africa started out solid in the Quiksilver World Grommet Teams Title and posed an eminent threat to Australia’s 11 straight years of wins. Through the first half they kept dibs on the first two places, with the odd reshuffling, but, as we all know, the heat’s not over until the awful-sounding air horn blows. Japan couldn’t find a good momentum the whole heat, and lagged in fourth for the last half hour. It looked like a showdown between South Africa, New Zealand and Australia with the final ten minutes ticking away. New Zealand posted decent to strong wave scores the whole heat and reached their maximum wave count first, leaving them observing for the rest of the final. South Africa was looking like a definite Title contender until they realized that they’d blown their first and eleventh waves, scoring 1.5 and 0.43. Had they not fallen and posted even average scores, say 3s, they would have shattered Australia’s spotless track record and gone on to victory. But it just wasn’t meant to be and they did fall which left Australia needing only less than a 1.5 to steal first. And with all the other teams already waiting on the beach in their boxes, it was Zahn Foxton who scored a mediocre 3 and won the title for the Australians once again. Guaranteed there were more than a few people holding their breath as Foxton sprinted up the beach trying to beat the buzzer with 30 seconds left, trying at all costs to avoid the ensuing 5 point penalty for not being in the team area at the end of the heat. But no worries, mate, Foxton trotted in with seconds to spare and the Australian team exhaled and began rejoicing at their unblemished record of 12 straight Team Titles.
Laurina McGrath, Luke Munro and Clint Kimmins, all fired up from their victories, are definitely the surfers of the moment in the world, the last gromms standing. They and their peers all deserve a huge thanks from the world for giving us a sneak preview at what the next generation has in store for the future. The contest ran so smoothly it was almost a joke- there were no catches, it had its best waves ever in its 12 year history, and Australia showed their might with solid finishes, all the way- till the last gromm standing.
By Lorca Lueras