Afonso Antunes (PRT) and Caitlin Simmers (USA) will forever have their names engraved in the GromSearch history books, as they battled against the very best 16 & under talent from all over the globe. Twelve countries represented the competitor field, which was heavily tested by the pounding five-to-six-foot Playa Hermosa surf. With beautiful sunny skies, light winds, and a large crowd on hand, all the ingredients were provided for the groms to put on a quality show.
The local Costa Rican contingent made the most of their opportunities with three male surfers entering the quarterfinals, but it was only Sam Reidy who advanced to the semifinal, falling short to an in-form Afonso Atunes. On the other side of the draw Taro Watanabe (USA) was able to secure a spot in the final by defeating Adur Amatriain (ESP). Watanabe was a clear standout as he posted three of the top five combined heat totals of the entire event.
“This entire contest was so exciting because the level of surfing was so high. Everyone was surfing so good and every heat was exciting to watch and to be in. Even though I didn’t get many opportunities in the final, just being in the final with Afonso was my highlight,” explained Watanabe.
Lully conditions didn’t allow for Watanabe to answer back to Atunes’s quick start in the boy’s final as he opened with a 7.33 using a ferocious backhand combination of manoeuvres and backed it up with a 6.70 to put the heat out of reach.
“I don’t have many words to describe how I’m feeling, I’m over the moon right now. I worked so hard for this, to get the job done; I’ve been doing a few events to train for this competition, and I did it! I love this event because I got to meet new friends, plus the waves were amazing, and I love Costa Rica. I definitely want to come back to this beautiful place,” described an enthusiastic Antunes.
15-year-old, Atunes, is only the second European to ever win the GromSearch Int’l Final, following in the footsteps of WSL WCT competitor, Leo Fioravanti (ITA).
Shifting to the highly anticipated girl’s Final, the event saw its youngest Champion in history, as 13-year-old, Caitlin Simmers absolutely dismantled the field on her way to victory over Valeria Ojeda (CRI). Simmers repeated her sensational performance from Day 2, as she once again secured the day’s highest wave score (8.83), and combined heat total (17.00).
“I’m really really happy. Thank you to Rip Curl for putting on the event, thank you to my family for their support, and thanks to everyone behind the scenes at this contest who brought us here to Costa Rica. It was great to see the local girl surfers get a chance to be in the event through the trials and I was stoked to be able to surf against Valeria.”
That wraps things up for the 2019 Rip Curl GromSearch International Final. We look forward to another year of great regional events taking place in over 10 countries across the world and look forward to returning to another exciting location for the 2020 International Final.
Rip Curl would like to thank the local community of Playa Hermosa, the Federacion de Surf de Costa Rica, and The Backyard Beach Hotel for their support of the 2019 Rip Curl GromSearch International Final.
For more information, please visit ripcurl.com