Day five of the Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Coolridge saw another day of picturesque two-to-three foot waves and massive heat totals across a multitude of different divisions, as the hotly contested event approached its final rounds.
Cody Robinson (Jan Juc, Vic) advanced through to the Semifinals after a nail-biter of a heat against McKenzie Bowden (NZL) in the quarterfinal of the World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) division. After holding the upper hand for the majority of the battle, Robinson nearly relinquished his lead in the dying minutes of the heat when he gave Bowden priority and a wave that nearly propelled him into the top-spot. However, thankfully for Robinson, the score fell marginally short and he was able to cement his position as one of the final four surfers left in the event.
"That was definitely a tense moment there," said Robinson. "I had priority when I caught my last wave, but I could tell there was going to be a wave behind it. I thought I blew it at one point, but thankfully McKenzie's score wasn't enough."
Local surfer Zac Wightman (Lennox Head, NSW) eliminated fellow event standout Mitch Parkinson (Coolangatta, Qld) after an exciting heat, in which both surfers executed a variety of solid turns. Wightman will now face Cody Robinson in the Semifinals.
"I haven't had too much experience with the whole priority system, so there was a bit of a learning curve to find out what I should be doing," said Wightman. "Once I scored that 8.83 wave, I wanted to go and sit on Mitch, but I couldn't do much as he had priority. I can't believe I've gotten this far to be honest, I'm stoked."
Jackson Baker (Merewether, NSW) continued to shine in the event, knocking 15-year-old Kyuss King (Byron Bay, NSW) from the draw in the quarterfinals. Baker stormed through the round, locking in a 15.10 heat total (out of a possible 20 points) for a rounded mix of rail turns and snaps.
"I've been feeling really good about this whole event," said Baker. "My boards have been feeling amazing and there's been some really good conditions over the course of the entire competition. I had a slow start to this year, so it feels incredible to at least get a semi-final finish here."
Jared Hickel (Cronulla, NSW) showed that good things come to those who wait in his quarterfinal, waiting until there was only four minutes remaining in the heat to catch his first wave. The Cronulla goofy-footer got the edge over Elliot Paerata-Reid (NZL), who was the last remaining surfer inside the top-ten of the Australasia JQS rankings, on the strength of a 13.34 heat total (out of a possible 20 points).
"I don't know what was going through my head there," said Hickel. "There were heaps of waves coming through in the heat before ours and it just stopped for us unfortunately. When I heard there was only five minutes remaining, I knew I had to get moving, so I just scratched into a few smaller inside waves and hoped for the best."
Competition will commence each day at 7:00am with the call for the days schedule and location confirmed via the event hotline at 6:45am. The event hotline is 0458 247 212.
The six-day event will see over 300 competitors duke it out in under-12, under-14 and under-16 divisions as well as a prestigious World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) event.
All event divisions will be broadcast live on skullcandyozgromopen.com.au.
The Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Coolridge is proudly supported by Skullcandy, Coolridge, Ballina Shire Council, Le-Ba Boardriders, Surfing NSW and World Surf League.