Two hundred and sixteen surfers from 25 countries hoping to compete in the World Surf League (WSL) QS6000 Burton Automotive Pro has prompted Surfest event organizers to squeeze in a trials day to determine the final draw. The contest, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, is set to kick off at Merewether Beach February 16.
World No. 6 Joel Parkinson (AUS), who won the event in 2012, will have top seeding. Other surfers from the elite Championship Tour (CT) will include Hawaiians Keanu Asing and Freddy Patacchia Jr., Australians Matt Wilkinson, defending event champ Matt Banting and Ireland's Glenn Hall.
A trials competition for 48 male surfers seeking to get into the main event will take place at Dixon Park beach Sunday, February 15. WSL Qualifying Series (QS) rankings will determine which surfers will get a start in the trials competition. The top four surfers from the trials will get to wear a competitor's jersey in the Burton Toyota Pro, which is slated to start the following day with 144 surfers.
Organizer Warren Smith said interest in the top levels of competition in Surfest's 30th anniversary year showed the event remains a great fixture on the Australian leg of the world pro surfing and plays a key role in enhancing the international sporting profile of the nation's premier state.
"The competition to get a starting singlet in the Burton Automotive Pro, let alone win the Mark Richards trophy, is genuinely tough. The sheer number of this year's entries show that competitor interest shows no sign of abating," Smith said.
"As Newcastle's only annual international sporting event, Surfest really looks forward to the international contingent and they'll be here in great numbers in 2015," he said.
The 2015 Surfest Newcastle Australia features international fields of competitive surfers in the Burton Automotive Pro (QS6000), the Burton Automotive Women's Classic (QS1000) and the Hunter Business Boardriders Pro Junior (men's Regional QS1000) along with 11 other surfing events. This year marks the festival's 30th anniversary and with over 800 national and international competitors.
Surfest Newcastle Australia starts February 1 with trials and concludes at Merewether beach on February 22, when another champion will add his name to the Mark Richards Perpetual Trophy that reads like a who's-who of professional surfing.