August 29, 2008: – – International honours will be at stake when the country's top 16-and-under surfers take to the waves of Mossel Bay next weekend in the second of four events in the 2008 Rip Curl Gromsearch series presented by Island Tribe.
More than 70 competitors from all over the SA coastline will be traveling to the Southern Cape with ambitions of earning one of the two invitations, plus airfare, to the International Rip Curl Gromsearch Finals at Bells Beach in Australia at Easter next year where Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) won the Boys event and Sarah Baum (Athlone Park) finished third in the Girls earlier this year.
The top four in each of the U12, U14 and U16 divisions for boys and the U14 and U16 girls at Mossel Bay receive invitations to compete in the SA Grand Finals 'somewhere' in KZN in November. There the winners of the U16 boys and U16 girls' divisions will be awarded their shot at international glory.
South Africa national team members Michael February, Davey Brand (both Kommetjie) and Dane Staples (St Francis Bay), along with reserve Jacob Mellish (Somerset West), head a powerful 28 man field in the U16 boys who will take on the high performance right hand point waves in Mossel Bay.
Southern Cape local Bianca Buitendag from nearby George, fresh of a foray to Europe where she finished 5th in the Rip Curl Pro Junior event in France yesterday, will be hoping to emulate her win in the first leg of the Gromsearch in Durban in June. Trying to stop Buitendag's dominance will be the likes of former SA champion Tanika Hoffman, fellow Kommetjie resident Holly Armstrong and Cara MacDonald (Port Elizabeth).
Benji Brand, winner of both the U12 and U14 boys' events in Durban, will again be doing double-duty in Mossel Bay with his strongest opposition in the older category likely to come from Durban event runner-up Josh Smit (Athlone Park), Jarred Veldhuis (Kommetjie), Daniel Buitendag (George) and the Notten brothers, Dominic and Nicholas from St James.
Max Armstrong (Kommetjie), Matthew McGillivray (Port Elizabeth), Jordy Maree (Kalk Bay) and Ethan Fletcher (Hout Bay) are amongst a dozen competitors who, like Brand, will be competing in both the U12 and U14 divisions.
Tahra Uren (Jeffreys Bay), the Smith sisters, Gina and Emma from East London, and Amy Bosworth (Kommetjie) look the pick of the U14 girls. A total prize-purse of R13 500 will be shared amongst the top four finishers in the five divisions and Rip Curl South Africa is pleased that Island Tribe have joined the Gromsearch series as presenting sponsors to help educate the youngsters on the benefits of correct skincare.
"Island Tribe is really stoked to be part of the Gromsearch series," Rob van Wieringen, Brand Manager for Island Tribe and former top surfing judge, said.
"Youngsters these days don't pay enough attention to the dangers of the sun and as more than 80% of the sun's damage to skin happens in the first 20 years of life, we felt that it was important to use this opportunity to highlight the dangers of skin cancer. Our product has been protecting surfers for many years and we are very proud of it."
The Rip Curl Gromsearch series presented by Island Tribe is sanctioned by Surfing South Africa (SSA), the national controlling body for the sport, and forms part of the SSA Pro Surf Tour (PST) with ratings points from each event counting towards the annual PST champions.
Entries for the Mossel Bay and Cape Town events can be made online at surfingsouthafrica.co.za.
Dates and venues for the 2008 Rip Curl Gromsearch events presented by Island Tribe are:
GROMSEARCH # 1 : DAIRY,DBN : JUNE 21&22
GROMSEARCH # 2 : MOSSEL BAY : SEPT 6&7
GROMSEARCH # 3 : CAPE TOWN : SEP 27&28
GROMSEARCH FINAL : 'SOMEWHERE' in KZN : NOV 1&2