Grommets from around the country will flock to Mount Maunganui this weekend as the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge swings into action with the first of three events.
Held hot on the heels of the National Championships completed at the start of January, the Grom Series will see the best surfers under the age of 20 get to display their early-season form in the waves of Bay of Plenty.
The 2018 edition of the Billabong Grom Series will be split into four divisions ranging from Under 14 through to Under 20 in two year increments aligning with the National Championships and representative age groups.
After an impressive run at the National Championships, Kora Cooper (Rag) will go into the event this weekend as a surfer to watch. The 13-year-old won the Under 16 Boys Division at Gisborne as well as finishing runner up in the Under 14 Boys and spectacularly finishing runner up in the Under 18 Boys Division.
He is one of a number of national title holders that will be competing at the Tay Street location including Under 18 Boys Champion Conor McLennan (Chch), Under 14 Boys Champion Jayden Willoughby (Rag), and Under 14 Girls Champion Brie Bennett (Rag).
2017 saw unprecedented numbers across the three event series and many of those were made up of the local Mount Maunganui surfers, the region continuing to produce a wide ranging group of highly talented youth.
The likes of Kehu Butler, Elin Tawharu, and new Open Women's Champion Raiha Ensor have all progressed on to the world stage and the three surfers, despite being eligible for the event this weekend will be away competing internationally. However, the locals will be represented by Kea Smith, Tiana Breeze de Mooij, the Ririnui brothers, Georgia Wederell, William Van Der Beek and Luke Griffin who will all be in action across the weekend.
Such is the strength of the local region, in 2017 they have claimed the overall club points at the Primary School Champs, the Scholastic Champs and finished runner up at the National Championships completed just over a week ago.
Starting this weekend, entrants will also surf for points toward their boardrider club ranking. This will take place throughout the Billabong Grom Series and the remainder of the junior events held around New Zealand. The points system will determine an overall club champion by the end of 2018.
The surf is expected to build late this week and hold into the weekend with light winds forecast.
Participants will all receive a Billabong Grom Series t-shirt upon entering as well as being in with a chance to receive piles of giveaways and prizes for podium-finishing surfers.
It is the 13th year that Billabong have sponsored the series in partnership with Oceanbridge who have been a proud supporter of surfing in New Zealand. This year's series is also supported by BMW Motorrad.
Action takes place at Tay Street, Mount Maunganui from 8am until late afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday.