Gisborne Surfers storm Whangamata Grom Series

Finn Johnson
Finn Johnson. Image courtesy of Cory / NZ Surfing Magazine

Gisborne Boardriders – Words by Kelly Ryan

Great weekend away in Whangamata for Gisborne. We took 11 surfers from Gisborne and managed to get 3 surfers into the finals. The waves turned up and ranged from good to excellent from Friday through to Sunday with Sunday being the smallest and most difficult in the early afternoon when a sea breeze popped up then disappeared again for perfectly offshore finals.

Saffi Vette was easily our top performer in the event, taking a huge lead in the final and winning the Under 17 Girls division convincingly. Vette left all fellow finalists requiring a combination of scores to catch her. This was a far cry from her near elimination in the semifinals and credit must go to Vette for her ability, tenacity and competitive nature. It was Kai Wolf who unfortunately handed Vette her finals spot being hit with an interference call late in the semifinal heat. Saffi posted an 8 and a 9 point ride in the final.
Young Ava Smith was another of our finalists, surfing for her first time in a National rated competition. Smith looks set to follow in the footsteps of both her older sisters as she went about casually scalping Under 14 Girl surfers from all over New Zealand on her way to a fourth place finish in that division.
Finn Vette was our third finalist and finished 3rd overall in the Under 14 Boys event.
Vette showed flashes of absolute brilliance in the early rounds of competition but had to settle for 3rd in the final. Judging by his performance and competitive spirit it will be just a matter of time before he takes a win in one of these events.
As this is a Series of events a finals placing is perfect for these surfers,  if they can maintain consistency a series win will be on the cards.

The following Gisborne surfers fell just short of the finals, being eliminated at semifinal stage.
  • Kai Wolf,
  • Hannah King,
  • Finn Johnson
Kai was caught out on an interference call in the Under 17 Girls semifinal. She was comfortably through to the final on points but became tangled up with two other competitors going for a large set wave. Kai was devistated.
Hannah showed great fitness, athleticism and a keen competitive spirit to place in the Under 14 Girls semifinal. Watch out for King as she gathers experience.
Finn Johnson stepped up to the Under 17 Boys division this year for the first time and at 14 was the youngest competitor in that division. This did not stop him taking down big names in a stacked competition. Johnson finished 5th overall. Look out for this aggressive surfer as he gathers momentum in this series.
A special mention to the following surfers for taking their first steps in National competition.
  • Te Haukopa Ehau Taumaunu
  • Finn Murphy
  • Ava Smith
Te Haukopa Ehau Taumaunu surfed smoothly and managed to score one good wave. He was unable to back it up and was eliminated in Round Two of the Under 17 Boys event. Taumaunu could easily better that performance as he gathers experience competing.
Finn Murphy was very nearly through to the quarterfinals but also fell just short in Round Two of the same event. Murphy did get two good scores but was just pipped by other competitors.
Ava Smith showed up and surfed. For a girl who, until now, didn’t really surf, Smith has an exciting future ahead. Smiths seemingly nonchalant, relaxed attitude to surfing contrasts vividly with her talent.
The next event in the Grom Series takes place at Piha in a fortnight.
The Whangamata Team:
  • Saffi Vette
  • Finn Vette
  • Stella Smith
  • Ava Smith
  • Kai Wolf
  • Finn Murphy
  • Finn Johnson
  • Manawa Ruru
  • Te Haukopa Ehau Taumaunu
  • Hannah King
  • Daisy Rawls