The opening day of the Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Flight Centre National Final saw some of Australia’s most talented young surfers shining in difficult conditions at Sandon Point as the event tore through the opening rounds.
Perennial GromSearch standout George Pittar (Manly, NSW) put on a fluent display of power surfing early in the day, posting a decent 14.34 two-wave heat total in his opening 16-and-Under Boys heat. Pittar executed an array of impressive forehand snaps to post the aforementioned score and book his spot straight into the quarterfinals.
Fresh off a Pro Junior win at Stradbroke Island last weekend, Molly Picklum (Shelly Beach, NSW) continued to build on her current momentum in her opening 16-and-Under Girls heat, posting a giant 16.87 two-wave heat total. Picklum performed well beyond her years in the opening exchange, performing a handful of giant forehand carves and snaps. As a result, Molly will make her next appearance in the quarterfinals.
Illawarra native Lennox Smith (Barrack Point, NSW) showed his knowledge of Wollongong beach breaks taking an impressive win in his first 14-and-Under Boys heat. Smith put on a healthy display of technical turns and carves in the heat to post a 15.06 two-wave total and get the win ahead of constant event standout Marlon Harrison (Coolangatta, Qld).
After finishing in the runner-up position at last year’s Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Flight Centre National Final, Cedar Leigh-Jones (Avalon, NSW) made her intentions clear that she was out for victory in her opening 14-and-Under Girls heat. Leigh-Jones synced her powerful forehand repertoire with the right-handers on offer in the first round, posting a respectable 12.43 two-wave total.
The main base for the National Final of the Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Flight Centre is Woonoona and Sandon Point with backup locations of Bellambi, Port Kembla, Stanwell Park and Thirroul. 
All competitors are advised to ring the event hotline (0458 247 212) by 6.45am on the days of competition to confirm location and running order.
With parallel Rip Curl GromSearch Series in over 10 countries, the series has become a crucial stepping-stone in the development of junior surfers right across the globe.
The list of previous GromSearch winners illustrates the prestigious history of the series, with World Surf League (WSL) competitors Gabriel Medina (Brazil), Tyler Wright (Australia), Owen Wright (Australia), Matt Wilkinson (Australia), Jordy Smith (South Africa), Kolohe Andino (USA) and Sally Fitz gibbons (Australia) among the list of former competitors and Grom Search International Final Champions.
The Australian series is made up of five events as well as a National final. Participants for the National final are determined from the GromSearch ratings, counting a surfers best 2 results across the series. In 2018 the winner of each division in each respective event of the series will be guaranteed entry into the National final, their seed in the National final will be determined by their best 2 results total on the 2018 Rip Curl GromSearch Rankings.
The 2018 Rip Curl Gromsearch is presented by Flight Centre, with managing partner Surfing Australia.
2018 Rip Curl Gromsearch Presented by Flight Centre Series Schedule:
EVENT 1 - Jan Juc, VIC - Sept 22 - 24, 2018
EVENT 2 - Newcastle, NSW - Sept 29 - Oct 2, 2018
EVENT 3 - Trigg / Scarborough, WA - Oct 5 - 7, 2018
EVENT 4 - Yorke Peninsula, SA - Oct 27 - 28, 2018
EVENT 5 - Sunshine Coast, QLD - Dec 14 - 18, 2018
NATIONAL FINAL – Wollongong Region, NSW - January 14 – 16, 2019