Monday Photos: 2014 Rip Curl GromSearch National Finals

Indian Summer, Saturday, Upper Trestles. Does life get better than that? Probably not, so 64 of America’s most talented youth all marched the Trestles trail together at 7 AM sharp. When they hit the sand, they were greeted by a three foot combo swell, 74 degree water temperatures and a 5-Star, WCT-esque setup by your friends and/or wetsuit makers at Rip Curl. A live webcast. Post heat interviews. Sports therapy. Enough free Banzai Bowls to upset every stomach on the beach twice over. And it wasn’t just the beach that resembled a WCT, the surfing…OK, it wasn’t quite Jordy Smith vs John John, but it was Eli Hanneman vs Jett Schilling and Caroline Marks vs Brisa Hennessey. And aside from a decade and 100 pounds, is there even a difference? After Caroline’s 18.83 semifinal, Taylor Knox was overheard saying she might even make a heat or two on the WCT. As in, right now. A heavy call? Maybe. But then again, Taylor Knox knows a thing or two about good surfing and Caroline did go on to win the 16 & Under final in convincing fashion, so maybe Taylor isn’t far off. Oh, and did we mention she’s only 12 and Rip Curl will be searching for her at this event for four more years? In the other marquee division, the Under 16 Boys, San Clemente local Kei Kobayashi found himself swigging the intoxicating thrill of victory. His smile might be the biggest in the world. His stature? Well, he’ll get there.

The international finals will be held at a location that has yet to be decided. Last year was at Lakey Peak so no, TBD does not translate to HB. It will, however, translate to your next batch of favorite surfers.

Boys Under 16
1.Kei Kobayashi
2.Luke Gordon
3.Cole Houshmand
4.Nolan Rapoza

Girls Under 16
1. Caroline Marks
2. Emory McClary
3. Maddie Peterson
4. Tiare Thompson

Boys Under 14
1. Ryland Rubens
2. John Mel
3. Jett Schilling
4. Devin Breggeman

Boys Under 12
1. Wyatt McHale
2. Cole Alves
3. Kade Matson
4. Eli Hanneman