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Kata Beach local Panu Visedsombut repeats as Rip Curl GromSearch Thailand champion

Kata Beach local Panu Visedsombut repeats as Rip Curl GromSearch Thailand champion

September 10, 2011

rip curl grom search phuket

Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand – Thirteen-year-old Kata Beach surfer Panu Visedsombut braved heavy winds, rain and storm-surf conditions to win the Rip Curl GromSearch Thailand for the second year in a row on Saturday. Visedsombut won every heat he surfed in on his way to the final, and also netted the highest heat total of the day. He takes home a Thailand GromSearch record 10,000 Thai Baht for the victory.

Visedsombut edged out his close friend, and fellow Kata Beach boy, Banjo Schlider, 11, in the final. Finishing in third place was Pumin Chamnan, 12, also from Kata, and in fourth was Chongchet Sroison, 16, who came all the way from Kamala, on the other side of Phuket island.

Dark storm clouds moved in over Kata Beach just before the start of the four-man final, bringing rain and gusting winds of up to 40 knots that nearly blew down the contest site. But the Thailand groms would not be denied, and made the most of the challenging conditions and punchy 3-foot beachbreak.“It was tough out there for the final,” Visedsombut said. “It was very windy, and it was difficult to make it outside because there were so many waves coming. It was much more of a challenge than last year, so I’m proud to have won again this year.”

As the top two placing surfers at GromSearch Thailand, Visedsombut and Schlider have become the first-ever Thai surfers to qualify for the GromSearch National Finals, which will be held during the Rip Curl Surf and Music Festival at Kuta Beach, Bali, on Oct. 8-9. The young Thai surfers will square off against the top finishers from other GromSearch events in Java, Lombok, Sumbawa and Bali for the opportunity to compete in the Grom Seach World Finals, held in conjunction with the Rip Curl Pro WCT event at Australia’s legendary Bells Beach.

“Panu and I surf together at Kata Beach whenever there are waves,” Schlider said. “I’m very excited we get to go to Bali together to surf in the National Finals and show everyone that there are good surfers in Thailand.”

Thirty boys and girls, ranging in age from five to 15, entered into this year’s event. The groms came from all over the island of Phuket, and even from as far away as mainland Thailand. Several international kids, on vacation in Thailand with their families, participated as well.

“This is the only youth surfing event in Thailand,” said event judge and Rip Curl Thailand team rider Jamie Smith. “There are a lot more grommets surfing here in Kata Beach this year than last, and this event is a big reason why. It’s a great opportunity for them.”

The most popular opportunity available on the beach Saturday was Rip Curl’s Surfboard Test-Drive Center. Brand-new boards in all shapes and sizes, from top shapers like DHD, Tokoro, T. Patterson and Phil Byrne, were available to try out for free all day. The racks of the Test-Drive Center were empty pretty much all day, as local kids and adults were constantly checking out boards to take out surfing.

Another highlight of the day was the Expression Session put on by Rip Curl Indo team rider Garut Widiarta, who came to Thailand to help judge the competition. Most of the people gathered on the beach had little or no previous exposure to surfing. Widiarta put on an electrifying performance of progressive surfing in the beachbreak peaks that left the crowd awestruck.

“The waves are kinda windy, but it’s really fun out there,” Widiarta said afterward. “The wave kind of reminds me of Kuta Beach back in Bali. Before this trip, I had never been to Thailand, and didn’t know if they really had surfing waves here. But now I know they do, for sure.”

Rip Curl GromSearch Thailand 2011 results:

1st – Panu Visedsombut (Kata Beach) 4.25*
2nd – Banjo Schlider (Kata Beach) 3.75*
3rd – Pumin Chamnan (Kata Beach) 2.75
4th – Chongchet Sroison (Kamala) 2.75

*qualify for GromSearch National Finals, Oct. 8-9, at Kuta Beach, Bali.

Photos and video from GromSearch Thailand can be found on Rip Curl Asia’s Facebook page, Log on to tag yourself and your friends.

About the Rip Curl GromSearch

The Rip Curl GromSearch Series is a global search for the most talented male and female under-16 surfers. Rip Curl is forever searching for the best way to look after the most important surfers – the grommets! It’s all about giving male and female groms the chance to surf with their friends in a fun environment. At the same time, it gives them great competitive experience and allows selected winners to compete for a trip to the Grom Seach World Finals, held in conjunction with the Rip Curl Pro WCT event at Australia’s legendary Bells Beach. The GromSearch program has seen some awesome talent over the years, including past winners Stephanie Gilmore, Ben Dunn, Mason Ho, Matt Wilkinson, Jessi Miley-Dyer and Alana Blanchard, along with Indonesian surfers Garut Widiarta and Oney Anwar. Do it up at your local beach with the Rip Curl GromSearch in 2011!

The 2011 Rip Curl GromSearch Series is sanctioned by the Coca-Cola ISC (Indonesian Surfing Championship) Tour. All contestants receive ISC Junior Division points at each event. The Under-16-year-old surfer with the most points accumulated through all junior events at the end of the year will become the Indonesian Junior Champion for 2011.

The 2011 Rip Curl GromSearch Series is sponsored by ESS (Eat Sleep Surf), Skull Candy, TRAX, GUS, Hai Magazine, Magic Wave, and OZ Radio Bali.