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New Zealand Women’s Surf Festival: Pāuanui surfer dominates inaugural all-female competition

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Pāuanui surfer Lola Groube has become the youngest champion at a national surfing event, winning the New Zealand Women’s Surfing Surf Festival. Photo / Lauren Crerar

The inaugural New Zealand Women’s Surfing Surf Festival made waves in Pāuanui last weekend, with local surfer Lola Groube breaking a record.

At the age of 12, Groube became the youngest winner of a national surfing event.

She not only took out the title in the Open Women’s Division but also won the top title in the Under-18 and Under-16 Girls Divisions.

Surfing runs in the family, with her father Matt Groube and big sister Chloe Groube, 16, both making a splash in the surf.

Her mum Amber Condero also takes to the waves, and said Groube was born and bred in Pāuanui, having got her start on the waves, aged four.

It is her second year competing at national level, having ranked 19th in the world at the 2023 juniors, Groube is scheduled to head to El Salvador in May to compete in the world junior championships.

Groube attends Whangamata Area School and is a member of the Whangamatā Board Riders.

“I was really stoked,” she said of the weekend event.

“I am really stoked to be representing my country.

“I love surfing with my friends; it’s fun and I love it.”

Condero said there was good support from the Pāuanui community at the event, creating opportunities for up-and-coming surfers to get better acquainted with each other.

Overall, it was a great event for Waikato surfers, with four other locals also clocking up achievements.

The festival, held on March 2-3, was part of the New Zealand Surf Series, New Zealand Grom Series and New Zealand Longboard Series with all-female competitions in six divisions: Under-14, Under-16, Under-18, Over-30s, Open Women and Longboard.

In the Open Women’s Division, Groube posted a 15.0 point heat total, relegating Whangamatā’s Grace Spiers to runner-up after Spiers had control of the majority of the final.

An 8.5-point ride for a three-turn combo on her forehand was what flipped the heat Groube’s way with two minutes remaining.

”It’s pretty cool to win all three. I’m pretty stoked, it is the best result I have ever got in the Open,” Groube said.

”The waves weren’t that good, pretty small but I managed to get a couple. I waited for the first ten minutes and got one ride on my backhand then I went down the beach and a wave came to me and I got my best score,” said Groube.

Spiers came in second, after opening the final with a 7.83-point ride and holding the lead for much of the final but she eventually came up short.

The finalists in the Open Women's Division at the NZ Women's Surf Festival: Gabi Paul, Leia Millar, Grace Spiers and Lola Groube. Photo / Lauren Crerar
The finalists in the Open Women’s Division at the NZ Women’s Surf Festival: Gabi Paul, Leia Millar, Grace Spiers and Lola Groube. Photo / Lauren Crerar

Double finalists Leia Millar and Gabi Paul, both of Piha, finished third and fourth respectively.

In the Under-18 Girls Division final, Groube used her light-weight frame to edge past Millar, with India Kennings, of Whangamatā, finishing in third, and double finalist Sage Fritchley, of Mount Maunganui, finishing fourth.

The third win for Groube came in the Under-16 Girls Division, where she had a high-scoring battle with Alani Morse, of Raglan.

It was a 15.33 heat total that got Groube the win with Morse fighting back with a 7.57-point ride on her last wave but coming up short.

Sage Fritchley of Mount Maunganui finished in third place with Kyra Wallis, of Piha, finishing in fourth.

Spiers avenged her loss against Groube in the Open Women’s Division with a win in the Over-30 Women’s Division where Spiers zoomed past her opponents with a 12.07 point heat total.

Kristen McCaw, of Pauanui, claimed the second place, ahead of Renee Ruddell, of Whangarei, in third, and Steph Brookes, of Auckland, in fourth.

Gabi Paul won the Women’s Longboard Division with a 14.07-point heat total and some clean-nose riding.

Willow McBride of Mount Maunganui led the chasing pack with a second-place finish, Amilie Wink, of Christchurch, placed third, and Portia Onley-Kemp, of Whangarei, finished fourth.

Raglan surfer Alani Morse at the inaugural NZ Women's Surf Festival. Photo / Lauren Crerar
Raglan surfer Alani Morse at the inaugural NZ Women’s Surf Festival. Photo / Lauren Crerar

In the Under-14 Girls Division, Jade Nias Phillips, of Kaitaia, took home the win. Isla McKay, of Whangārei, came in second, followed by Maketu’s Jayda Bramley in third and Piha’s Sieni Ryan in fourth.

While the event was built around the competition, the festival also included a surf-specific pilates and mobility session, a skate session and a screening of the surf film Over the Undertow.

The draw and full results from the event can be viewed at

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