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Local Groups & Clubs

Local surfers earn NZ team selection

Come 3 May this year, over 400 highly motivated and talented young surfers from around the globe will assemble in Surf City El Salvador with surfboards ready for the 2024 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Surfing Championships.  This event is seen as the pinnacle milestone to reach for the world’s top junior surfers and a natural progression for the future superstars of the sport.
 |  Jack Biddle  | 

New Zealand will be represented with a very talented and strong team of 12 surfers from around the country and will include 15-year-old Onemana based Harrison Biddle and 13-year-old Lola Groube from Pauanui.

The championship is limited to two age group and gender categories with the male and female surfers chasing their own individual championship glory. The younger surfers or groms (short for grommets) as they are often referred to in the wider surfing community, will all be under 16 while the older surfers will all be under 18 when the competition kicks off.

Both Harrison (Year 11) and Lola (Year 9) attend WhangamataArea School and are members of the highly successful Whangamata Surf Academy squad. The academy program is part of the school’s curriculum with the aim and expectation from the school hierarchy of students achieving on the water as well as in the classroom.

LOLA: This year will be the second time Lola has represented New Zealand at this level after finishing a highly credible 19th at the World Championships held in Brazil in 2023 as a 12-year-old. Along with older sister Chloe, who is also one of NZ’s top female surfers, Lola learned to surf at the family beach of Pauanui before progressing onto the popular Bar in Whangamata. Lola is the youngest ever female surfer in New Zealand to win an open women’s competition along with making an open women’s final at age 11.

The surname Groube has been part of the surfing scene in NZ for many years with the girls’ Dad, Matt Groube, up there with the best elite surfers around in his competitive days.

Matt says while both girls are highly competitive, Lola’s biggest fan and supporter is her sister Chloe.

“Gaining selection in the NZ team again was a very special moment for the whole family and says a lot about her ability, focus and dedication to the sport. It doesn’t do any harm either when her older sister is pushing her to the limits in both training and in national competitions as well”.

Lola will be joined in El Salvador with Alani Morse from Raglan and Indi-Lee Ruddell from Northland.

Lola says, “I’m a much better surfer now than I was 12 months ago thanks to the experience gained in Brazil plus the tough competition from within New Zealand. Surfing can be a very cruel sport at times with the tiniest of margins often the difference between progression and elimination in the lead up to the finals. If I can finish in the top 10, I will be happy, but I don’t believe a podium finish is beyond me either”.

HARRISON: Harrison Biddle’s pathway to NZ selection was not quite so straightforward. After a disappointing NZ Championship in Dunedin in January, he was under pressure to perform in the Billabong Grom Series to gain a spot in the NZ team for El Salvador.

Consistency throughout the qualifying rounds at Piha saw him make the final and finishing runner-up to eventual series winner Alexis Owen from Dunedin. Alexis will also attend the World Championships with Harrison along with Australian based Benji Lowen.

Harrison has been getting pushed into waves by his enthusiastic surfing father Paul since he was around 3 years old.

“Moving permanently to Onemana six and a half years ago from Auckland however was the turning point for him and with the surf literally on our doorstep he really got serious about the sport.

“Getting accepted for the Whangamata Area Schools surf academy was another huge positive step for him and where he could realise his potential. He has been competing in local and national events for the last 5 years, including a National U16 Maori title and a 2nd in the U14’s at the NZ Secondary Schools champs.

“We, plus our extended family, are extremely proud of his selection for the world championships,” says Paul.

After recovering from a badly broken leg and being confined to the couch for 4 months around 18 months ago Harrison hasn’t look back since being back on the water.

“Being selected to represent my country is a dream come true, it still feels so surreal,” says Harrison.

“Not that long ago I was just stoked to make our school and scholastics team, but in recent times I feel like I have been able to really show to everyone and also to myself that I have what it takes.

“I’m also very lucky to have Rangi Ormand and Mr Care from the WhangamataArea School Surf Academy as my coaches as well as my mates from the Whangamata Boardriders Club supporting me.”

Sponsorship

Both Lola and Harrison would  like to acknowledge their sponsors.

Lola – Anderson Surfboards Whangamata, Billabong, Sticky Johnson Surf Wax and Vans

Harrison – Anderson Surfboards Whangamata, Bodywork Gym Whangamata.

From left to right, Rangi Ormond (Coach), Lola Groube, Harrison Biddle, Dylan Care (Head of the Surf Academy/Coach)