Sally Fitzgibbons on barrel duty at 2017 Anditi Women’s Pro at Newcastle

(Merewether, NSW, AUSTRALIA 7 November 2016)

WORLD number eight Sally Fitzgibbons took on barrel responsibilities of a different kind today at Newcastle.

Fitzgibbons made the 200km journey from Cronulla to Merewether beach this morning after wrapping up the inaugural Sydney International Women’s Pro – the first pro-surfing event she has ever helmed. Today, the 26-year-old drew software start-up Anditi from 85 local Hunter businesses to give the company naming rights for the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 6,000 event that will run at Merewether beach from 20-26 February 2017.

The event will be known as the Anditi Women’s Pro. This is the second year the event has been funded by local businesses contributing more than $1800 each to go into the competition to win naming rights.

Anditi’s managing director Peter Jamieson was over the moon his company was the one to emerge first from the barrel.

“It’s really a thrill to be able to contribute to this iconic surf event and it’s just as bigger thrill to be the business that has secured the naming rights for 2017. The add-on of a publicity budget and the resultant brand awareness is a fantastic bonus,” Mr Jamieson said.

On hand with Fitzgibbons to oversee the draw was local surfer Philippa Anderson, who finished just behind Brazilian Silvana Lima in yesterday’s final at Cronulla.

Fitzgibbons told a lunch crowd of more than 150 people gathered for the draw at Merewether’s Surfhouse that it was incredible that the local community backed this initiative for a second year in a row.

“Newcastle has a great and deserved reputation for getting behind surfing and to see all the businesses here today showing that support says a lot about this city. I’ve been coming here competing since I was 12 or 13 and the hospitality and warmth I have found here makes Newcastle really special to me,” Fitzgibbons said.

She added she’d be back in 2017 to defend the crown she won here at Merewether beach last February, when she became the inaugural winner of the world’s first crowd-funded pro-surfing competition, the Taggart Women’s Pro.

Anderson, who was still elated with her runner-up finish at yesterday’s event, said although it had been a tough year for her on the competition circuit, she looks forward to the Anditi Women’s Pro at her home break and attempting to back up her 2009 Surfest crown.

“It’s a great thing having a competition practically in your backyard because you can keep a routine going and fully focus your energy,” Anderson said.

Surfest chief Warren Smith said the generosity and belief of local businesses for a second year was both humbling and inspiring.

“I have to thank so many people, it’d take forever. But a big shout out has to go to Col Law from the Commonwealth Bank for his optimism, his belief and his ability to turn an idea into a reality through an incredible attention to detail,” Smith said.