Whangamata surfer Dune Kennings made a successful comeback to the competitive arena Sunday (14th February) winning the second event of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge which was held at his hometown break.
Kennings won the premier Under 20 Boys Division alongside Gabriella Sansom (Albany) who won the Under 20 Girls Division.
The surf deteriorated for the second day of the event with a small swell under 1.0m and moderate onshore winds all day.
The win has been a long time coming for Kennings. He first injured his knee in the final event of the Billabong Grom Series in March 2015 before getting surgery in July. Seven months out of the water prevented him from surfing until February this year so the win today was special.
“Yeah really happy, about a month ago I knew the event was coming and I thought about it every day, trained hard and really wanted to win and got it so it is good,” said Kennings.
“The surf was pretty average today but I was lucky to get the right waves, make it through my heats and win the final,” he added.
“It is very interesting being injured, it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with, I learnt a lot about myself, did different things, I didn’t even look at the ocean for ages because I would get too gutted but now I am back I appreciate it all and want to surf more than ever.”
Kennings finished with a 14.43 point heat total to win the final beating Taylor Hutchison (Rag) who surfed to his second runner up finish of the three event series. Hutchison finished with an 11.77 point heat total to defeat Harrison Whiteside (Chch) who is fresh back from competing in Australia on the World Qualifying Series.
Finishing fourth today was first-time finalist in the Under 20 Men’s Division, Matt McGregor (Whangarei).
Gabriella Sansom (Albany) backed up her win at the first event of the series with a win at Whangamata today. Sansom was locked in a close battle with all finalists and held down second place for the part of the final before her sister Bianca was deemed to interfere with another surfer and was deducted half of her second scoring wave relegating her from first to second. Gabriella then took advantage of the situation increasing her lead and surfing to an 11.33 point heat total for the win.
Despite being at a disadvantage with the interference, Bianca managed to place second in the final ahead of Claudia Fraser (Piha) in third and Abby Falwasser – Logan (Gis) in fourth.
Jonas Tawharu (Mnt) surfed his way to a second straight win in the series but not before he was pushed until the final hooter by local surfer Dylan Preston. The powerful goofy-foot surfer posted a 13.5 point heat total compared to the smaller Preston who finished with 13.2 points. Preston’s final wave fell short of the 6.3 points required when he completed an air reverse on the inside section for a 5.87.
Preston surfed to his best result of the year in finishing runner up while Caleb Cutmore (Ham) placed third with Jared Gebert (Ohope) finished in fourth place.
Kai Woolf (Gis) bounced back from a third at the first event of the series to post a comprehensive heat win in the Under 17 Girls Division. Woolf put the blow torch on her opponents when she surfed to a nine point ride midway through the heat to take the lead. She finished with a 15.33 point heat total and an easy victory. Winner of the first event of the series, Raiha Ensor (Mnt), finished runner up after being the form surfer of the division, edging out Elin Tawharu (Mnt) who finished in third place and Maaia Reid – Bennett (Mnt) in fourth.
James Ririnui surfed to his first ever win at a national level winning the Under 14 Boys Division. It was the third different winner from three events this year proving that the division is packed full of talent. This weekend, Ririnui defeated national champion Thomas Robinson (Whangarei) after he rode to a 6.27 point ride with five minutes to go that jumped him in to the lead. Ririnui managed to hold Robinson off for the remainder of the heat. Jack Lee (Whaka) finished in third place surfing in his first final of the year and Taylor O’Leary (Mur) finished in fourth.
Stella Smith (Gis) repeated the dose in the Under 14 Girls Division winning her second straight event of the Billabong Grom Series. Smith looked aggressive in her approach going for big turns ultimately finishing with a 10.93 point heat total. Christchurch surfer Estalla Hungerford finished runner up ahead of Georgia Wederell (Mnt) in third.
Please see below for final results from the second event of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge completed at Whangamata Sunday (14th February).
Under 20 Boys Division Final
Dune Kennings (Whmata), 14.43, 1, Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 11.77, 2, Harrison Whiteside (ChCh), 10.33, 3, Matt Mcgregor (Nrthland), 7.23, 4
Under 17 Boys Division Final
Jonas Tawharu (Mnt), 13.5, 1, Dylan Preston (Whmata), 13.2, 2, Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 11.03, 3, Jared Gebert (Ohope), 9.47, 4
Under 14 Boys Division Final
James Ririnui (Mnt), 11.60, 1, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 11.17, 2, Jack Lee (Whakatane), 9.53, 3, Taylor O’Leary (Mur), 8.63, 4
Under 20 Girls Division Final
Gabriella Sansom (Auck), 11.33, 1, Bianca Sansom (Auck), 7.23, 2, Claudia Fraser (Auck), 7.2, 3, Abby Falwasser – Logan (Gis), 5.57, 4
Under 17 Girls Division Final
Kai Woolf (Gis), 15.33, 1, Raiha Ensor (Mnt), 11.63, 2, Elin Tawharu (Mnt), 7.63, 3, Maaia Reid – Bennett (Mnt), 5.87, 4
Under 14 Girls Division Final
Stella Smith (Gis), 10.93, 1, Estalla Hungerford(Chch), 6.23, 2, Georgia Wederell (Mnt), 6.17, 3
Entry into the final Billabong Grom Series event at Auckland’s Piha Beach (5 – 6 March) can be completed at Surfing New Zealand under events.
For further information on the 2016 Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email [email protected]. Alternatively contact Billabong Event Manager Keone Campbell on 0274921138 or email [email protected].