35th Surfest Newcastle Australia top seeds are Julian Wilson and Johanna Defay

6 February 2020

A WHOPPING field of 225 international surfers from 30 countries are seeking a start at the Surfest Newcastle Pro presented by Burton Automotive and the Doyle Partners Women’s Pro at Merewether beach as part of the 35th Surfest Newcastle Australia.

Surfest organiser Warren Smith says the increased interest from international competitors in Surfest’s two biggest competitions will provide a huge financial boost to Newcastle and the surrounding area.

“The Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres says Surfest 2020 is expected to attract more than 1,600 visitors to Newcastle and generate almost $2.1 million in tourism related expenditure for the region.

“The Minister’s acknowledgement shows Surfest’s contribution to NSW and the important economic influence tourism and events play in the regional economy,” Smith said.

“We are really proud that when entries closed, so many male and female international surfers showed they want to hold up the two main event trophies and join a long list of some of surfing’s most influential and revered figures.

“And celebrating our 35th anniversary would not be possible without the generous support provided by our foundation partner the City of Newcastle,” he said.

Surfest Newcastle Australia will offer 13 different surfing and cultural events in-and-out of the water across three local government areas in the Hunter and runs until Sunday 8 March.

Surfers from Australia, Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Hawaii, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Peru, Puerto Rico, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the USA have entered the flagship events.

The two main events have attracted a total of 330 entrants – 105 of whom are Aussies and include local hopes from the elite World Surf League Championship Tour (CT) Ryan Callinan (ranked 14 in the world) and CT 2020 rookie Morgan Cibilic.

One hundred and twenty-two women are vying for 96 spots available in the Doyle Partners Women’s Pro, while 208 men have entered the Surfest Newcastle Pro presented by Burton Automotive which will start with a round of 166.

Organisers are considering the logistics involved in running trials to determine the final fields of competitors in the two 5000 competitions.

A total of 12 surfers from the CT will compete in the top events.

World number 11 Julian Wilson is the number one seed in the men’s event, while France’s Johanne Defay, ranked eighth in the world, is the top seed in the women’s contest. Both athletes have qualified to represent their countries at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics where surfing will make its debut.

Other men from the CT include Italian Leonardo Fioravanti, newly qualified Aussie Ethan Ewing, defending champion Alex Rebeiro and his fellow Brazilian Jadson Andre.

There are four CT surfers besides Defay in Doyle Partners Women’s Pro and all are Australian – Bronte Macauley (world number 13), Keely Andrew (world number 15), Macy Callaghan (world number 17) and Isabella Nichols (world number 20). All CT women surfers will start in the round of 48.

The Lake Mac City Pro Junior has also seen more junior men and women seeking to grab a spot than there are places available. Ninety-six surfers are scheduled to converge on Redhead beach this weekend to contest the World Surf League’s Junior Qualifying Series. The Junior Men’s will start with the round of 64, while the women will commence with the round of 32

Surf reports predicting swells up to four metres on Sunday and possible heavy rain across the weekend has resulted in organisers considering an alternative surf break in the Lake Mac local government area.

Other surfing events set for the 2020 Surfest Newcastle Australia include the nation’s richest Indigenous surfing event, the Wandiyali Indigenous Classic, the Sanbah Cadet Cup, and the Go Kindy High School Teams Challenge.

Out of the water, Surfest offers the Drop Festival and the “Barrelled” Wine, Food and Beer Festival.