Coolum duo crowned Rip Curl GromSearch champs

Coolum’s Isabella Nichols on her way to National victory in the 2012 Rip Curl GromSearch National Final Champions. Photo: Calderon/Surfing Queensland

It was a case of déjà vu yesterday as Coolum High School’s recently celebrated MR Shield winners, Isabella Nichols and Jaleesa Vincent, both claimed victory in their respective Rip Curl GromSearch divisions.
This time however, the win was at their home break in Coolum and made sweeter with the backing of a huge cheer squad of family, friends and their fellow Coolum Boardrider teammates and surf coaches.
The excitement reached fever pitch on the beach when Nichols claimed victory in the premier 16 and Under girls National final, instantly earning her a chance to represent Australia at the International GromSearch final in Victoria next year, held in conjunction with the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
Nichols avenged a fourth place finish in Monday’s series final to score a 15.27 on Tuesday and take out the girls national final by less than half a point, pipping Holly Wawn (NSW), Sophie McCulloch (Alex. Headland), Cali McDoagh (NSW) and Laura Poncini (Caloundra), who finished second to fifth respectively.
In the ‘all Queensland’ 14-and-under-Girls series final, Jaleesa Vincent posted a 12.50 point victory over runner up Lucy Callister (Burleigh Heads), Laura Poncini (Caloundra) in third and in fourth place, Kiani Dobbyn (Palm Beach).
Ironically, Nichols and Vincent were the guests of honour at a Coolum Boardriders celebratory ‘pizza party’ – held over the weekend to acknowledge the girls’ recent national win in the U19 girls MR Shield, which recognises Australia’s top surfing schools across three divisions.
U14 Girls Rip Curl GromSearch Finals winner, Jaleesa Vincent. Photo: E Henderson

Named after four time world surfing champion Mark Richards, the MR Shield – under 19 Boys and Girls and under 16 Boy’s schools comp ran in conjunction with the Soundwave Australian Junior Titles (Tasmania 1-8 Dec) and the prestigious MR Shield winners can comfortably claim bragging rights to being Australia’s very best schools in surfing.
Also scoring well for the locals was young Coolum competitor Amber Dods, who made it through to her U12 final, finishing a respective third behind first placed Alyssa Lock (Snapper Rocks) and Kiara Meredith (NSW) in second.
Jackson Baker (Merewether, NSW) claimed the U16 boys National title, edging out Luke Hynd of Burleigh Heads and Wurtulla’s Kai Hing, and will now line up alongside Isabella Nichols to compete at the Rip Curl international GromSearch next year.
The four-day Queensland event (15-18 Dec) was the culminating leg of the 2012 Rip Curl GromSearch series presented by Telstra; and saw Coolum welcome over 100 of Australia’s best 16 & under-year-old competitors.
Full event results are available at