Fritchley and Withers Nail the Under 14s to Open 2024 Billabong Grom Series

The 2024 Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge kicked into action at Mount Maunganui on Saturday (27th January) with the youngest of the next wave of talent surfing through the day to crown two event champions.

Local surfer Sol Fritchley took his second win of the season in the boys division while Piha’s Ella Withers surfed to victory in the girls division.

The surf was small throughout the day with waves under the 1.0m mark and light onshore winds.

Fritchley found himself up against two club mates in Vitor Bauermann and Ffeon Clifford as well as Auckland’s Jesse Frazerhurst.  Fritchley and Bauermann slowly found their rhythm in the final whicho became a two horse race while Frazerhurst kept to his air game attempting to keep pace with the front runners.

A 15.67 point total in the final was enough for Fritchley to claim the win with Bauermann finishing on 13.97 points.

“Pretty happy because I really wanted to win at my home break,” said Fritchley.  “I know I am strong here in these waves and this is the last time I get to surf in the Under 14s here, so yeah, I am happy that I took the win,” he added.

With the second win over Bauermann in as many events, Fritchley was quick to highlight the importance of the two going head-to-head and pushing each other’s surfing.

“I love versing Vitor, he is always going to post up good scores and I love that rivalry,” he added.

Frazerhurst finished in third place improving on his fifth place finish at the National Championships earlier in the month.  Eleven-year-old Clifford made his first final and placed fourth with his stylish surfing.

Ella Withers was surfing in her first Billabong Grom Series event and contested three heats to take the win.  The Piha surfer kept her three Mount Maunganui opponents at arms-length by finishing with a 10.90 point total and will look forward to the next two events, especially the final event at her home beach.

Nami Marsden (Mnt) finished runner up, her second finals berth in as many events.  Newcomers Savannah Dawes and Mila Milfont finished in third and fourth respectively.

Earlier in the day the Under 16 Boys Division completed their first rounds of the event.  The battle of the round went to Dunedin’s Alexis Owen and local shredder Tyler Stenzel.  They exchanged the lead several times with Owen eventually getting the odd and the two surfers advancing through to the quarterfinals.  Others to take good wins included Indi Chave-Heffernan (Whngrei), Zade Pitkeathy (Mnt), Patrick Burbury (HBay) and Sev Tolhurst (Piha).

The Volkswagen Highest Single Wave Score Award went to Sol Fritchley for a 9.0 point ride in the final of the Under 14 Boys Division.

The Under 18 Boys and Girls Divisions enter the water today (Sunday 28th January) along with the conclusion of the Under 16 Divisions.

Action takes place at Tay Street, Mount Maunganui from 8am until late afternoon on Sunday with similar swell conditions on offer but an increasing northerly wind is expected to build in the afternoon.  Live scoring can be viewed at

Mount Maunganui is the first of three of the most popular events in the country with the series carrying on to Whangamata (10-11 February) and Piha at the end of February (24-25 February).

The 2024 edition of the series draws on a long history of fun with all of New Zealand’s elite surfers having taken part including Richard Christie (Gis), Paige Hareb (Tara), Billy Stairmand (Rag), Mount Maunganui’s own Kehu Butler and Ella Williams (WGM).

It is the nineteenth year that Billabong has sponsored the series in partnership with Oceanbridge who have been a proud long-time supporter of junior surfing in New Zealand.

Further Information
For further information on the 2024 Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email

High resolution action images of the surfing at all events on the Billabong Grom Series will be available to media free of charge. Please contact Ben Kennings for further details.

Generous support from Billabong and presenting sponsor Oceanbridge has made this series possible.

Follow the event
Follow the action via social media @billabong on Instagram and @surfingnz across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.  Follow the series hashtag – #BillabongGromSeries.

Surfing New Zealand is proudly partnered by:
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Author: Ben Kennings