ESA NCFL Contest #2

After more than a few months since our first contest, Volusia County started accepting permits for surf contests again.  During the Covid break in our contest season, there were many emails that went back and forth with Volusia County Beach Safety and our directors. Volusia County Council people got involved, which helped get permits approved with a Covid plan. This Covid plan was required to be followed during the surf contest.

In the week and a half leading up to Contest # 2 at NSB Inlet, the winds and surf were relentless.  Rising surf and blowing winds are the norm for our fall and winter months.  Tides were super high and only allowed vehicle traffic for short periods during the day.  A venue change was needed, NSB Inlet would not be the ideal location with the conditions that we faced.  The call was made to hold the contest on day 2 of the holding at Bethune Beach, in New Smyrna.  

Bethune has all the amenities that are needed for a contest, a raised area for the contest tents, restrooms, and plenty of parking.  With the winds backing off considerably and even blowing offshores at times, the surf was a fun 3 to 5’ and improved as the tide filled in.  The rain was the biggest issue of the day.  At times, we all had to hold the tents down as the quick-moving rain squalls made a mess of the contest site.  Thankfully, those rain squalls were short-lived.  

As the tide filled in, many of the contestants surfed their heat on the inside.  This provided judges and spectators with a remarkably close view of the contest arena.  During the first part of the contest, many of the competitors made the long paddle to surf the outside and catch the set waves.  This proved to be a questionable strategy as some of the contestants surfed the inside and caught more waves.  

In the end, despite the rain and changing venues, we had a surprisingly good contest.  In the upcoming weeks, Contest #3 will be held at Ponce.  Hopefully, the weather plays nice and we look forward to seeing everyone again.

As of now, 20 days after the contest, none of the athletes have shown COVID-19 symptoms.

If swell shows up, the last contest of the year will be held at Ponce Inlet on 12/12 and 12/13.

written by Jason Eastwood

ESA Standard Point Matrix for 2020 Season – 2021 Championships

Event 1 was held in New Smyrna Beach and Event 2 was held in Bethune Beach.

Boys U1212TotalPlace
Luke Lopez10009001,900.01
Cash Nipper9008101,710.02
Everette Nipper65610001,656.03
Asher Eastwood7296561,385.04
Sawyer Glynn729729.05
Rad Regor810810.06
Gus Hultgren656656.07
Owen Taylor590590.08
Girls U1212TotalPlace
Alana Lopez100010002,000.01
Emily Clement8108101,620.02
Tracey Spruill900900.03
Boys U16(15 & Under)12TotalPlace
Donovan Vanek9009001,800.01
Victor Martinez10007291,729.02
Torrey Medina Jr.9008101,710.03
Charly Vera7296561,385.04
Ethan Harbinson10001,000.05
Asher Eastwood729729.06
Junior Men U18 (17 & Under)12TotalPlace
Torrey Medina Jr.10008101,810.01
Victor Martinez9009001,800.02
John Neal8106561,466.03
Christian Schwartz10001,000.04
Charly Vera729729.05
Masters (30-39)12TotalPlace
Josh NiCastro10009001,900.01
Rick Mellen90010001,900.01
Brandon Taylor8108101,620.03
Dane Hodgekins729729.04
Chris Wright729729.04
Senior Men (40-49)12TotalPlace
Stephan Nipple100010002,000.01
Jason Glynn8109001,710.02
Scott Anderson9007291,629.03
Jason Eastwood7298101,539.04
Legends (50 & Over)12TotalPlace
Lynn Harrington10001,000.01
Jay Smith10001,000.01
Jeffery Smarse10001,000.01
Ronald Kirk10001,000.01
Charley Hajek900900.05
Grand Legends (M/F 60 & Over)12TotalPlace
Kirk Oswell100010002,000.01
 Girls U14(13 & Under)12TotalPlace
Carlie Eastwood90010001,900.01
Alana Lopez8108101,620.02
Delaney Spruill6569001,556.03
Ava Lavender10001,000.04
Grace Podratz729729.05
Nelle Murphy656656.06
 Open Longboard12TotalPlace
Alan Ellison90010001,900.01
Rob Schweizer10008101,810.02
Brandon Taylor7299001,629.03
Jaedyn Wagner6567291,385.04
Maddie Franz810810.05
Kaylin Weinrich810810.05
Jason Weinrich729729.07
Junior Longboard U1812TotalPlace
Rob Schweizer100010002,000.01
Masters Longboard (35-49)12TotalPlace
Brandon Taylor100010002,000.01
Legends Longboard (50 & Over)12TotalPlace
Al Ellison100010002,000.01
Eddie Clement8109001,710.02
Jason Weinrich900900.03
 Jr. Womens Longboard U18 (18-34)12TotalPlace
Jaedyn Wagner81010001,810.01
Madison Franz10001,000.02
Kaylin Weinrich900900.03
Menehune Bodyboard (M/F 13 & Under)12TotalPlace
Emily Clement10001
Open Bodyboard (M/F All Ages)12TotalPlace
Chris Shaw10001
Emily Clement10001
Under 16 Girls12TotalPlace
Carlie Eastwood81010001,810.01
Delaney Sprull6569001,556.02
Niyah Rosen10001,000.03
Madison Lavender900900.04
Ava Lavender729729.05
Grace Podratz656656.06
Jaedyn Wagner531531.07
Mya Ruzmovich531531.07
Nelle Murphy430430.09
Under 18 Jr Womens SB12TotalPlace
Carlie Eastwood90010001,900.01
Niyah Rosen10001,000.02
Madison Lavender810810.03
Ava Lavender729729.04
Jaedyn Wagner729729.04
Morgan Morris656656.06
Grace Podratz656656.06
Boys U14 (13 & Under)12TotalPlace
Donovan Vanek100010002,000.01
Victor Martinez9007291,629.02
Asher Eastwood8108101,620.03
Ethan Harbinson900900.04
Charly Vera656656.05
Micro push in12TotalPlace
Sawyer Glynn10001,000.01
Natalie Vera10001,000.01
Ryder Winkler900900.03
Skylee Harbinson900900.03
Kohen Harbinson810810.05
Jake Fisher Jr.729729.06
Colby Taylor729729.06
Kieren AJ656656.08
Ladies 35+12TotalPlace
Alicia Simmons10001,000.01
Open Shortboard (M/F All Ages)12TotalPlace
Josh Nicastro10001,000.02,000.01
Rick Mellen900729.01,629.02
Stephan Nipple8106561,466.03
Brandon Taylor7298101,539.04
Jason Eastwood3496561,005.05
Jay Smith729729.06
Niyah Rosen590590.07
Morgan Morris590590.08
Madison Lavender478478.08
Torrey Medina478478.010
Scott Anderson478478.010
Dane Hodgekins349349.012

Getting to Know Ava and Madison Lavender

Lavender sisters, Maddie and Ava, always show how good and radical their surfing is when they are out in the water. Now, their little sister, Brynlee, is riding her first waves, getting ready to join her older sisters. Becky and Blake are a 100% active family, always supporting their daughters, and being role models for the local surfing community.

Where are you from?

Ava: East Coast, Florida.

Madison: East Coast, Florida.

How old are you?

Ava: 12 years old.

Madison: 15 years old.

Tell us about your beginnings in surfing.

Ava: I started competing when I was 7 years old.

Madison: I have surfed since I was 5 and I started competing when I was 9.

What was your first surfboard?

Ava: A 4’11’’ Orion Surfboard.

Madison: A bright blue QuietFlight.

What is the best surfboard you have ever had?

Ava: The best surfboard I have had so far is my current Gordzilla board. Gordon shapes me some awesome boards but this one is so fun.

Madison: My favorite board is my Gordzilla I currently ride.

What is your local and favorite beach?

Ava: I surf Ponce a lot and it is probably my favorite break.

Madison: I love Smyrna Inlet. It has a lot of wave variety.

Why did you decide to surf?

Ava: I started surfing because my dad loves to surf, and we could always go as a family. It’s so fun to be out in nature and I love everything about the ocean.

Madison: I started surfing with my Dad when I was really small and have always loved being in the ocean.

Who are your surfing friends since you started?

Ava: I have so many surf friends. My favorite part of surfing and competing is making friends from all over the world.

Madison: Surfing has given me the opportunity to become friends with people from all over the world.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Ava: I like all kinds of music, anything that puts in a good mood.

Madison: I like all kinds of music… The Beatles, Queen, Shawn Mendes.

Tell us about your best surfing trip.

Ava: OBX was fun. Lots of breaks all along that coast and waves are super fun when they are good.

Madison: My best trip so far was surfing at BSR in Waco.

Do you have any sponsors?

Ava: My sponsors are Akela Swim, Catalyst Cocoa Beach Surf Shop, Headhunter Suncare, Charming Shark, Prolite, Icemule Coolers, and I ride Gordzilla Surfboards, ESA All-Star Member.

Madison: My sponsors are Akela Swim, Catalyst Cocoa Beach Surf Shop, Headhunter Suncare, Charming Shark, Prolite, Icemule Coolers, and I ride Gordzilla Surfboards, ESA All-Star Team Member.

Do you do any training besides surfing?

Ava: I try to skateboard and some fitness when I have the time; but mainly surfing.

Madison: I try to incorporate some fitness and land training when I can’t be in the water.

Tell us about your best contest result.

Ava: My best contest so far has been NSSA Regionals last year, super excited to surf it this season.

Madison: My best contest to date was the WSL Roxy Jr Pro.

How important is surfing in your life?

Ava: Surfing is very important to me; it is a huge part of my life.

Madison: Surfing is very important to me because it gives me the opportunity to have goals and work towards them

It is important to keep the beaches clean to enjoy this sport; do you think surfers can come together to maintain our beaches? What advice can you offer for the conservation of the ecosystem?

Ava: I believe it is important to keep the beaches clean, as a surfer when I see trash or an opportunity to help keep our beaches clean, I try to always pick it up and do a part to help. If we all work together to show love to our beaches and clean up fishing lines and trash, the animals and ocean will be a much better place.

Madison: Keeping the beaches clean is so important because it makes the ocean a healthier environment for marine life. As surfers, we can do our part to clean when we see left behind and educate the public on the importance of conserving our beaches and protecting when we love.

Feel free to follow us on Instagram:

Ava: instagram.com/ava_lavender_surfer

Maddie: instagram.com/maddie_lavender


Torrey Medina: A Surfer With Great Talent.

Torrey Medina Jr belongs to the Ponce Inlet groms community and he is one of the surfers who has made the most progress in recent years.

Torrey has a very supportive team: Torrey Medina Sr. always backing him in and out of the water, his mother and sisters taking excellent pictures from the beach, and the unconditional support of Shea Lopez.

Torrey always has a smile and a good vibe when he is surfing and shows that the most important thing is to have fun.

Meet Torrey Medina in this interview with Sunglow Surf:

Where are you from?

I live on beachside but grew up in Port Orange, Florida.

How Old Are You?

I am 13 years old.

Tell us about your beginnings in surfing.

When I was 3 years old I played on my boogie board like it was a surfboard and that’s where it all started.

What was your first surfboard?

My first fiberglass board was a 4’9 town & country Hawaiian surf design board.

Best surfboard ever ridden?

My favorite surf board is a 5’2 fun shape Lopez board.

Where did you learn to surf?

The first beach and favorite beach is Ponce Inlet, Florida.

Why did you decide to surf?

I decided to start surfing because no matter what surfing is the answer and my parents can’t even keep me out of the water.

Who are your surf friends?

Some of my surf friends since day one are Rad, Cash, Ev, Luke, Alana, and my newest friends Donovan and Victor. Out in the water I’ve met so many new friends but I can’t name them all.

What music do you listen to?

My favorite type of music is reggae (Sublime) and some rap. I like a little bit of everything.

Which was your favorite surf trip?

My best trip was to Lake Worth Pier, Palm Beach. I’m looking forward to a surf trip out of Florida soon.

Do you do any training besides surfing?

I skate a lot, ride my bike, or skunk my dad in fishing.

Tell us about your best contest.

Favorite contest was Shea Lopez Daytona Beach Week.

How important is surfing in your life?

Surfing is very important in my life and I don’t know what i would do without it.

It is important to keep the beaches clean to enjoy this sport, do you think surfers can come together to
maintain our beaches? And what advice can you offer for the conservation of the ecosystem?

Keeping the beach clean is important to all surfers, especially locals. It’s our second home and where I can get away from my house full of girls.

I just wanted to say a big thank you to Shea Lopez for my awesome boards, Daytona Board store and Maui Nix for being the best surf shops, and all of the support from my family and friends. I’m very thankful for my mom and dad always driving me to surf at sunrise and leaving at sunset almost every day. I also want to thank Kemo because he helped me a lot and I miss him.

Don’t forget to follow Torrey on Instagram: @torreymedinajr.


The Surfing Adventures of Carlie and Asher Eastwood.

When we talk about parents committed to the education of their children, we have to talk about the Eastwood’s. Michelle and Jason are the proud parents of Asher and Carlie. Both parents share the passion of the water with their children. We always see Jason in the water surfing his kids and Michelle taking pictures from the beach. It should be mentioned that Jason is currently the new Director of the ESA North Central Florida District.

Where Were You Born?

Asher: I was born at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando, but I’ve always lived in New Smyrna Beach.

Carlie: I was born at Winnie Palmer in Orlando but have lived in New Smyrna all my life.

How Old Are You?

Asher: 8 years old

Carlie: 11 years old

When Did You Start Surfing?

Asher: I started surfing at age 4.  My dad would take me out at the inlet on one of his boards with a life jacket.

Carlie: At age 6, my dad would push me in on one of his boards

What Was Your First Surfboard?

Asher: My first board was a 5’0” used Orion, it was one of Ben Wingate’s old boards

Carlie: I got one of Ava McGowan’s used boards.  I think it was a 4’7”

Best Board You Have Ever Used?

Asher: I like them all

Carlie: I love my new Quietflight’s, especially the epoxy.

What Is Your Home Break?

Asher: New Smyrna Beach

Carlie: New Smyrna Beach, but we surf Ponce a lot.  We have so many friends on that side.

Why Did You Start Surfing?

Asher: My dad and sister wanted to share surfing with me and I also love the water

Carlie: My dad made me go out, at first I didn’t like it.  But I got used to falling and tumbling in the water and I just fell in love with the waves and the water.

Who Are Your Surfing Friends?

Asher: My sister, Jake, Victor, Donovan, Cash, Everett, Rad, Luke and Alana

Carlie: Ava and Maddie Lavender, Ava McGowan, Alana Lopez, Sarah Ryan, Paige Taylor and Grace Podratz

Which Music Do You Listen To?

Asher: Rob Zombie and Lil Nas X

Carlie: Maroon 5, Bon Jovi, Imagine Dragons and Billie Eilish

Best surf trip?

Asher: Panama and getting washed over the reef at Santa Catalina in 8’ surf.  It took me 45 minutes to paddle back out around the reef.  The locals paddled over to my dad and told him that I would be ok, it’s not too shallow

Carlie: Puerto Rico, I went there when I was 8 and was still getting pushed into waves.  My dad pushed me into a bomb at Maria’s.  I also surfed Surfer’s Beach and got run over by a paddle boarder from Florida at Wilderness that wasn’t fun though.


Asher: Quietflight, Grom and of course Mom and Dad.

Carlie: Quietflight, Eidon and of course my Mom and Dad.

Do you do any training?

Asher: My sister and I work out with a personal trainer a few times a week.  We also skate when the surf is flat at our ramp in the backyard.

Carlie: My brother and I have a personal trainer and we skate on our mini ramp at home.

Best contest ever?

Asher: The Daytona Beach and Board Fest. I got a perfect 10 score in my semifinal heat and even though I didn’t win my friends met me at the water and gave me a chair up I felt so special.

Carlie: Last year’s Rip Curl Gromsearch.  I made the girls 16U Finals and was the youngest girl to qualify for the Gromsearch National Finals at the BSR Wave Pool.

How important is surfing in your life?

Asher: It is the most important thing ever; all I want to do is be like John John Florence

Carlie: Surfing is a part of me, I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t surfing.  My dream is to make the tour.

What advice can you give to keep the beaches clean?

Asher: Do not use plastic and throw it on the ground.  Pick it up and throw it away.

Carlie: Recycle plastics and if you see trash on the beach, stop and pick it up.

Favorite activity besides surfing?

Asher: I love skating

Carlie: Anything outdoors

Local surfers that I look up to?

Asher: Dustin Richardson always talks to me and cheers me on, Eric Geiselman is always stoked to see me in the water and at the skatepark.  Michael Dunphy is always nice to me, Adam Lattore is super cool to me ever since he almost ran me over at the skate park, lol. Bobby Levy is so fun to watch and surf with and he listens to me when I talk forever. Ethan Harbinson, Ava McGowan and Ben Wingate are always fun to surf with.  Braeden Kopec is always nice to me, one time he gave me a brand new set of shades from one of his sponsors.

Carlie: Eric Geiselmen is so nice and hugs me when I see him, Dustin Richardson does amazing airs and cheers me on in the water.  Ava McGowan is so sweet and has always been a great friend and she absolutely rips in the water.

What are you working on in surfing?

Asher: I’m really trying to land airs

Carlie: I’m working on going vertical and I really want to do airs

Favorite thing to do in surfing?

Asher: Getting barreled and airs

Carlie: I really enjoy getting on rail and carving.

Favorite Pro Surfer?

Asher: John John Florence and Caio Ibelli.  I met Caio at the Surf Expo and we went surfing together at Typhoon Lagoon.  He surfed with me the entire session.  I can’t wait for the tour to start again so I can cheer him on.

Carlie: Lakey Peterson, Felipe Toledo and Caio Ibelli.  I have always looked up to Lakey, she’s my inspiration.  I hope to be like her one day.  I really want to do airs like Felipe.  Caio is so nice.  We surfed with him at Typhoon Lagoon and he cheered all the kids on.  He was so cool to take time out to surf with us.

How are you doing with the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Carlie & Asher: Staying at home and surfing close to home.  I miss my Ponce crew and surfing with my friends.

Follow us on Instagram:

Asher Eastwood – @ashergrom1

Carlie Eastwood – @carlie_eastwood_

Jason Eastwood (Dad) – @jason_eastwood_


The Nipper Twins

When you get to Ponce Inlet and see the beach full of groms you know the day will be fun. Even more when the Nipper twins are out there. These guys can do excellent maneuvers and the best bottom turns on the beach, their parents Joy and Nate have done a great job raising them, they are polite and respectful, they have a promising future in and out of the water. Meet the Nipper Twins in this article.

Where Are You From?

Everett: Ponce Inlet, Florida.

Cash: Lucky enough to be born and raised Ponce Inlet, Florida

Cash Nipper
Everett Nipper

What Is Your Age?

Cash & Ev: 10 years old.

What Was Your First Surfboard?

Ev: First hard board was A 5’0 Minami surfboard that my brother lost at the beach. I’m never sharing aboard with him again

Cash: My first surfboard was a 5’0” Minami that my brother and I shared. I, unfortunately, left it on the beach when I was five and now it’s gone.

Which one is/was your favorite board?

Ev: A 4’6″ Minami surfboard that we called “The Feather”…so sick, but I broke the nose off it a couple weeks ago. Glenn has a fresh 4’8” coming for me soon.

Cash: The one I ride now. A 4’8” Mayhem from Matt Biolos.

First Beach and Favorite Spot?

Ev: Born and raised in Ponce Inlet, Florida; so that’s my first and favorite break. I can walk, skate, or ride a bike there, so I love it.

Cash: My first and home break is Ponce. I can’t say too much about my favorite break, that’s top secret. I’ll tell you it’s in Costa Rica.

Why did you decide to start surfing?

Ev: I didn’t…My father made me. Hahaha… what a jerk.

Cash: Because I live next to an awesome break and I like being in the water.

Who are your surf friends?

Ev: We have a crew named the Shred Dawgs.

Cash: The Shred Dawgs.

What’s Your Favorite Music?

Ev: Metallica, Guns in Roses, Jack Johnson, and T.S.O.L. I like to play guitar so louder is better.

Cash: I play drums and piano in the family band and my favorite type of music is 80’s to 90’s rock along with Beatles and Queen.

Which One Has Been Your Favorite Trip So Far?

Ev: Costa Rica this spring break was pretty special. The waves were on fire. Got to enjoy it with my friends too, so it was Awesome.

Cash: My best trip was when I went to Chancletas Beach Resort and slept on a trampoline, ate Thanksgiving Dinner in a hut, had S’mores, rode a 4 wheeler, and got SHAKED all week.

Who Is Your Sponsor?

Cash & Ev: Maui Nix Surf Shop.

Do You Have a Training Routine Besides Surfing?

Ev: Does skating count? Maybe not, but my family does core workouts in the living room. We also play a lot of football.

Cash: Running, Football, yoga. You know… just keep moving.

What Was Your Best Event?

Ev: Is it weird that my favorite contest I didn’t even win? It was a North Carolina contest for the East Coast Grom Tour Championships and I got a buzzer-beater and tried an air, but my fins caught in dry sand and Luke Lopez toke the win. I got second place (and a free board), and got really sandy!

Cash: I had an East Coast Grom Tour event in the finals against my friends and my brother and won. That was also the first time I got carried up the beach.

How Important Is Surfing to You?

Ev: It’s what I want to do every day.

Cash: Number 4 on my list below God, Family, and Friends.

Is It Important to Keep Beaches Clean and Do You Think
Surfers Could Come Together on This?

Ev: I like 3 for the sea and projects like 4 ocean is a good way to help the environment, but my Mom picks up more trash than any body…We can all be a little more like her.

Cash: I think the locals at our break do a great job of keeping it clean and protected. Maybe we could have more trash cans so that if they are full, people won’t litter.

What Was Your Gnarliest Wipeout?

Ev: My most gnarly slam was probably in Costa Rica. I was super deep on the wave, too deep so the foam ball ate me up I snapped my leash and was yelling at Luke Lopez to save my board. Me and the board were headed for big rocks. Some guy I didn’t know helped on his
board to see if I was alright and helped me get out of the impact zone. I got a gnarly bruise from the fin, but my board was ok.

Cash: My Gnarliest wipeout was in Costa Rica a couple weeks ago when Cory pushed me on a bomb and I air-dropped 5 feet looking at shallow reef below me. Missed the reef though and popped up no problem. Pretty sure that was one of my 9 lives.

Anyone you want to thank for helping you get where you are

Ev: I would like to thank Cory Lopez for pushing me into the gnarliest waves. The Shred Dawgs for motivating me. My Dad for getting us started and being a funny dad. And Mom for our lifestyle.

Cash: I would like to thank Cory Lopez for being a mentor and my friends for pushing me harder every day. Also, thanks to Corey Willey and Maui Nix for helping us with all of our surf gear.

Follow Us on Social Media!

Our Instagram accounts are: @cash_nipper and @ev_nipper.

The Nipper Family

More Pictures of Us Surfing:

Photo Credits: Nipper Family and Sunglow Surf.


Matt Zaccaria, The Stealthy Surfer from Ormond Beach.

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At Sunglow Surf, we have seen this guy surfing for over a year. We have seen him stealthy riding as many as twenty-five great quality waves in a period of one hour at both: Sunglow Pier and Ponce Inlet…

Today, we are introducing Matt Zaccaria, a 23-year-old surfer from Ormond Beach, FL:

I started surfing around when I was 11 years old with my stepdad. I used to surf before school and after school in middle school at a beach called Granada.

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My first surfboard was an old 6’5″ Mad Dog that my uncle bought for me for Christmas. That made me want to start surfing a lot.

Some friends who I started surfing with were Robbie Merrell and Blaize Carroll.

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I don’t train. I just try to surf as much as I can. That is my training… Surfing big waves.

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When I am not surfing, I like to skateboard, fish, play golf or hang with friends.

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During my last surf contest, I got 4th place. It was called Eco Pro Surf Series. I made the final, but couldn’t put it together for a win…

My best result in contest surfing was when I made it to the Round of 32 at the Vans Pro 3000 in Virginia Beach, in 2015.

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Some of the music that I really listen is performed by these artists: Nirvana, Blink 182 and Smashing Pumpkins.

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I would say my favorite trip was the Outer Banks, NC… Always good seeing friends up there and surfing together.

I haven’t done much traveling, I have to work for my first good surf trip… I am thinking about Bali or Australia.

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We asked him what he thinks about the surfing industry… to which he replied: “he surfing industry is nothing like it used to be. For example, there are so many talented surfers that do not have an opportunity unless they come from a rich background. I feel some of the kids getting paid lots of money don’t have to work as hard as others.”

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Sponsor: Particle Brand.

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Follow me on Instagram: @mattzaccaria_

Getting To Know Tommy Grooms.

Wilbur By The Sea. Photo: Joleen Skerk; Just a Blink Photography.

Name: Tommy Grooms 

Born: March 2, 1987 

Local Surf Break: Ponce Inlet, FL 

Sponsor: Mad Dog Surf Shop

Travels: Costa Rica(x2), Spain, France, Mexico(x3), Ecuador, Hawaii, Puerto Rico(x12), North Carolina(x3), and I lived in California for 3 years traveling the entire coastline several times in search of new waves. 

First Surfboard: My very first surfboard was a Mad Dog shaped for Kevin Reeves that my mom and step-dad bought for me when I was 11. I had already been surfing on an old board that my mom had laying around the house growing up, but when I got my own board, I started surfing EVERYDAY! Then, I started competing only a few months later and was able to make the final of my very first event. Back then, I was competing along side names like Jeremy Johnston, Niels Schweitzer, Devon Trescher, Pat Deal, and Jesse Hielman (all you of whom still rip!). 

From left to right: A.J. Miller, Robby Grooms, Tommy Grooms. Photo: Sandy

Most Memorable Wave: I wish I could say that my first wave was my most memorable, but the truth is, I donʼt remember starting to surf. Iʼve been surfing longer than I can recall… but when I think of my most memorable wave, it would be during my time in Ecuador a couple years ago. I caught a bomb during the biggest and best swell of the year and was a ride that Iʼll never forget. Iʼve had a few moments like that, that really stand out to me. Another was on a really big swell in Puerto Rico where I paddled out by myself and caught three of the biggest waves that I have ever ridden! 

Tommy Grooms in Ecuador. Photo: Sebastian Sanchez

Scariest Moment Surfing: Thatʼs an easy one… I almost drowned during a Corona Pro event at Middles in Puerto Rico a few years back. The waves were really big and I got caught inside by a set, broke my board, and then got cartwheeled across the reef for an entire 5 wave set. I barely made it back to the beach with about 200 spectators watching it all happen. I was pretty rattled after that one, but luckily I had a friend from Ecuador named Sebastian Sanchez that talked me into getting right back on the horse! Later that day, I bagged a few bombs at Wilderness to get the jitters out and put my mind back where it should be. Confidence is crucial when surfing big waves, and with over 20 years experience, I have no shortage of that! 

Biggest Fear: My biggest fear is not having the ability to surf. I’ve been very fortunate to only have one major injury since I started surfing. Although, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time… When I was 18, I had plans to move to Hawaii after graduating high school. I had a friend of the family offer for me to live with him rent free for two months on the North Shore of Oahu. I hoped to be able to enter a few contests and make a name for myself as a talented young surfer. About a month before I was scheduled to embark on that mission, I shattered my wrist while skateboarding. The doctor told me that I would be in a cast for the next 6-8 months and may require surgery after that… so I had to cancel my plans and sad to say, I still have not made it to the North Shore (although I did live on Kauai for over two months). After having my dreams shattered along with my wrist, I ended up cutting my own cast off after only two months, and required a temporary cast to surf for the next two years! As bad as that was, I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse and that I still have the ability to surf… because I honestly don’t know what my life would be without that outlet.

Life Outside of Surfing: I  work a full time job as an irrigation technician on a golf course. Luckily, theyʼre very supportive of my surfing and allow me to take time off for traveling and competing. I donʼt go out to bars or clubs. Itʼs just not my thing… I realized at a young age that I didnʼt want to get wrapped up in the local party scene. In a sense, my entire life has always revolved around the waves. If itʼs good, I surf. When itʼs not, I work hard so that Iʼm ready when it starts to fire! 

Favorite Surf Trip: I bought an old RV in my late 20ʼs and drove it to California with plans of a two month vacation. I ended up staying and traveling the coastline from Baja to Oregon for two years, searching for perfect waves in uncrowded line-ups… I found what I was looking for and was able to make some really great friends along the way! 

Tommy in North California. Photo: John Chambers

Localism and Regulation: We have to have it! Respect is everything. Iʼm a very proud Ponce Inlet local. And Iʼm also a very proud regulator of that lineup! After more than 20 years, I know who surfs out there on a regular basis and who doesnʼt. Iʼm also very familiar with the unwritten rules. Anyone and everyone is welcome to surf there, but you must respect the people that have put in their time. Every surf spot has a ladder to climb. Start at the bottom and work your way up. Thatʼs the only way to do it… If I decide that I want to race cars, you wonʼt see me in the Daytona 500. Youʼll find me at the NSB speedway trying to hone my skills (just an example). Surfing is the same way. Start at a beach break, graduate to a pier, then come to Ponce and start working your way up that ladder!  Anyone can do it, and I appreciate the people that do it right. If you donʼt normally surf Ponce, donʼt go there on the best day of the year expecting the best waves. Know your place, show respect, and youʼll feel all the love and good vibes that we all share on the best days! 

Tommy at Ponce. Photo: Darin Back

The Future: You know where to find me… as far as surfingʼs future is concerned, we have a ton of local talent coming up; The Pervais boys, lil Victor, Grady Grom, Kieran Ajay, Zoey, and all the Lopez grommets just to name a few! I love watching all of these groms progress through the ranks and I look forward to seeing what they become. Iʼve been judging some of our local ESA contests and am looking forward to doing more of that. I think we need good judges like myself and Jesse Hielman that understand the progression of the sport and how difficult it is to do certain maneuvers in the most critical part of the wave. I donʼt like being judged by surfers that canʼt do half of the tricks theyʼre judging. That really bothers me! So, instead of just complaining, I hope to be a part of the solution. 

Tommy with the local groms. Photo: Joleen Skerk; Just a Blink Photography 

Special Thanks: Bernie and Rita Crouch (Mad Dog Surf Shop) has supported me and my surfing for over 20 years now. Honestly, I may not still be surfing if it werenʼt for Mad Dog taking me under his wing! I owe it all to him. I also need to thank my mom, Teresa Cameron, and my step dad, Marty Dobos, for making many sacrifices to ensure that I could travel and compete at a young age. 

All of them have shown me unconditional support my entire life and I truly do appreciate it! Iʼd also like to give a big shout out to all of our local photographers that support us and capture our best moments; James Buffington with Natureʼs Wave of Photography (R.I.P.), Joleen Skerk with Just A Blink Photography, Victor with Sunglow Surf, Drew Duncan with Pipeline TV and many more. From all of us local surfers; WE THANK YOU!!! 

Tommy and Joleen Skerk. Photo: Miguel Hine
Tommy surfing in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Joleen Skerk; Just a Blink Photography 
Tommy at Ponce Inlet. Photo: Will Vogt.
Tommy at Ponce Inlet. Photo: Joleen Skerk; Just a Blink Photography .
Tommy at Daytona Beach Week Airshow. Photo: Mark Bochiardy
Tommy in Puerto Rico. Photo: Osiris Tores
Tommy in Ecuador. Photo: Sebastian Sanchez