Six new champions have been crowned at the third event of the Rip Curl GromSearch presented by Flight Centre, in punchy waves off Perth’s metropolitan coastline.
The third and final day of competition saw an exciting conclusion to what has been a look into future of Australian surfing, with Trigg Beach serving up more fun and highly contestable waves for surfers from all corners of the country.
Rip Curl team rider Jacob Willcox (Margaret River, WA), was on hand to encourage and commentate Australia’s newest generation of grommets. Willcox himself is a former Rip Curl GromSearch series winner and cut his teeth competing in junior events at Trigg over the years.
“It’s really exciting to be here to see how good all the groms are going,” said Willcox. “I loved the GromSearch events when I was growing up and I was lucky enough to make the GromSearch International Final once as well.”
Willcox called a few heats and joined groms in the water during the Flight Centre Expression Session.
“My little cousins were here competing and I’m back in WA for a while so I’m thrilled to be here checking out all the action go down,” Willcox continued.
Ben Gradisen (Gracetown, WA), notched up one of the biggest wins of his junior career with a dominant victory in the 16 & under boys division.
Gradisen booked his spot into the GromSearch National Final with a powerful display of backhand surfing. Catching the best two waves of the final, Gradisen obliterated each section that came his way, posting two excellent scores totalling 17.00 (from a possible 20).
Gradisen left his fellow finalists chasing either near-perfect scores or in a combination position after the 25-minute final.
“I’m so stoked to take the win, especially against such quality opposition,” said Gradisen. “I definitely rate this win as one of my best ever and I’m excited to have qualified for the National Final.”
Bodhi-Leigh Jones (Whale Beach, NSW) won the 16 & under girls division, taking down a trio of local West Australian girls that included April McPherson (Mandurah, WA), Emma Cattlin (Yallingup, WA) and Maddie Cawood (Margaret River, WA).
Leigh-Jones caught only three waves during the 25-minute final, but still amassed a combined two-wave total of 14.60 (from a possible 20), which included an 8.00 (from a possible 10) and a back up 6.60 (from a possible 10).
“I can’t believe it, I felt like the underdog going into that final against all the WA girls, they’ve all been ripping,” said Leigh-Jones. “I first came over to WA four years ago and this is my last year in the GromSearch, so it’s awesome to qualify for the National Final and thanks so much for my dad and sister for always supporting me.”
In a GromSearch first, competition was forced to go on hold after a confirmed shark sighting close to the competition area. This saw Trigg Beach closed for one hour and put a holt to the 14 & under boys final with twelve and a half minutes remaining.
“Surfing WA followed all local protocols and communicated directly with our own water safety team, City of Stirling beach inspectors and the staff on board the Surf Lifesaving WA helicopter,” said Surfing WA Events Manager Justin Majeks. “The safety of our surfers is of outmost importance and with ski in the water, eyes in the sky, and no further detections the beach reopened just over one hour later.”
After the delay and in strengthening afternoon winds, the 14 & under boys final continued with Ethan Huxtable (Jan Juc, VIC) showing he’s talent to keep an eye on.
Huxtable was in great touch throughout the entire event and booked his spot into the National final with a close and hard fought win ahead of Jack Mickle (Trigg Beach, WA), George Simpson (Gracetown, WA) and Max Burton (St Andrews Beach, VIC), with less than two points separating first though to fourth.
“I wasn’t that worried when I heard the shark siren and saw the helicopter hovering over the water. I knew with the jet ski out there that we’d be ok,” said Huxtable. “This is my first time surfing at Trigg Beach and it’s been a fun event and the WA locals are sick.”
Cedar Leigh-Jones (Whale Beach, NSW) matched the efforts of her sister by winning the 14 & Under Girls division. After taking home 12 & under girls last year at Trigg Beach, Leigh-Jones outmuscled Zali Hewson (Margaret River, WA), Maddie Cawood (Margaret River, WA) and Jazz Wylie (Jan Juc, VIC) to secure her position into the GromSearch National Final.
“I was so nervous out there, I only got my one good wave and it was in the last eight minutes,” said Leigh-Jones. “WA has been a really good place for me and it’s great that both my sister and I have won, we’re stoked.”
Maverick Wilson (Mandurah, WA) went mad in the 12 & under boys final, fending off a ferocious pack of talented youngsters. Using every inch of his 4’6 surfboard with laser precision, Wilson scored a combined total of 14.26 (from a possible 20) to take an impressive win ahead of Jake Hagan (Geraldton, WA), Macklin Flynn (Mandurah, WA) and Jack Ragen (Bateau Bay, NSW).
“I’m so stoked to have won, especially because all the boys have been surfing really well,” said Wilson. “I’m really looking forward to the National Final and thanks to my dad for taking me to the beach everyday.”
Isi Campbell (Denmark, WA), made a massive impact in her first ever surfing competition, scoring the only perfect 10-point ride of the event on her way to victory in the 12 & Under Girls division.
Campbell finished ahead of Margaret River girls Lilli Cox, Willow Hardy and Zali Hewson who finished second, third and fourth respectively.
“It was hard work out there, but I couldn’t be happier to win my first competition and thanks to my family for all their love and encouragement,” said Campbell.
In other results from the weekend, George Simpson and April McPherson were recognised as the Rip Curl ‘Outstanding Performers’, while Jack Mickle and Isi Campbell were given the Flight Centre ‘Rising Star’ awards.
After events in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, the Rip Curl GromSearch will continue next month in South Australia for the fourth stop of the prestigious National series.
Final Results - Rip Curl GromSearch - Trigg Beach
16 & Under Boys:
1. Ben Gradisen (Gracetown, WA) – 17.00
2. Xavier Huxtable (Torquay, VIC) – 13.34
3. Finn Cox (Margaret River, WA) – 12.57
4. Lachie Mitchell-D’Raine (Duncraig, WA) – 7.43
16 & Under Girls:
1. Bodhi Leigh-Jones (Whale Beach, NSW) – 14.60
2. April McPherson (Mandurah, WA) – 9.76
3. Emma Cattlin (Yallingup, WA) – 8.00
4. Maddie Cawood (Margaret River, WA) – 5.13
14 & Under Boys:
1. Ethan Huxtable (Jan Juc, VIC) – 11.97
2. Jack Mickle (Trigg Beach, WA) – 11.34
3. George Simpson (Gracetown, WA) – 11.27
4. Max Burton (Rye, VIC) – 9.80
14 & Under Girls:
1. Cedar Leigh-Jones (Whale Beach, NSW) – 10.30
2. Zali Hewson (Margaret River, WA) – 9.87
3. Maddie Cawood (Margaret River, WA) – 7.70
4. Jazz Wylie (Torquay, VIC) – 7.00
12 & Under Boys:
1. Maverick Wilson (Mandurah, WA) – 14.26
2. Jake Hagan (Geraldton, WA) – 12.00
3. Macklin Flynn (Mandurah, WA) – 10.90
4. Jack Ragen (Bateau Bay, NSW) – 10.50
12 & Under Girls:
1. Isi Campbell (Denmark, WA) – 15.60
2. Lilli Cox (Margaret River, WA) – 9.93
3. Willow Hardy (Margaret River, WA) – 9.33
4. Zali Hewson (Margaret River, WA) – 7.51
The Australian Rip Curl Gromsearch series allows surfers from around the country to compete against their contemporaries in a fun and engaging environment.
With parallel Rip Curl GromSearch Series in over 10 countries, it has become a crucial stepping-stone in the development of junior surfers. 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 GromSearch International Final Champions.

For more information on this or any other WA event series be sure to log onto and check out all the Surfing WA social media platforms for event updates and information.
2017-18 Rip Curl GromSearch Series Dates:
RCGS - EVENT 1 - Jan Juc, VIC - Sept 23 - 25, 2017  
RCGS - EVENT 2 - Maroubra, NSW - Sept 30 - Oct 3, 2017  
RCGS - EVENT 3 - Trigg Beach, WA - Oct 6 - 8, 2017 
RCGS - EVENT 4 - Yorke Peninsula, SA - Nov 4 - 5, 2017 
RCGS - EVENT 5 - Sun shine Coast, QLD - Dec 11 - 15, 2017
National Final – Woonoona, Wollongong, NSW - Jan 15 - 17, 2018