Surfest set to celebrate 30th anniversary in February 2015

THIRTY candles will be on the celebratory cake for Surfest Newcastle Australia’s anniversary next February when 12 surfing events will hit the water over a three-week period. And there’s plenty of action out of the water too!

The icing on the cake will be the Burton Automotive Pro – a six-star Association of Surfing Professionals’ (ASP) competition at Merewether beach from February 16-22. The Burton Automotive Pro will see the world’s best male surfers vying for the prestigious Mark Richards trophy and a share of a whopping $US150 000 prize pool on offer.

The one-star Burton Automotive Women’s Classic will be held at Merewether beach from February 18-22.

Both the Burton Automotive Pro and Burton Automotive Women’s Classic will be webcast live to a global audience.

The Hunter Business Boardriders Pro Junior will see the nation’s best young surfers competing alongside their international peers from February 13-15.

But beyond the three ASP-rated events, Surfest has scheduled surfing competitions across three local government areas (LGA) – Port Stephens, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie – that are home to the best beaches and surf breaks in the Hunter region.

And today the State Member for Charlestown and the Mayor of the City of Lake Macquarie Council Jodie Harrison, Councillor Nuatali Nelmes from Newcastle City Council and the Deputy Lord Mayor of Port Stephens Steve Tucker each fired the cannons at historic Fort Scratchley under the watchful eye of number one gunner Doug McCloy to celebrate Surfest reaching 30* years.

On hand was the newly elected Tim Crakanthorp, who undertook his first official function as the Member for Newcastle at the Surfest celebration following his maiden speech in the NSW parliament yesterday.

Also present was event patron, four-time world surfing champion and the “unofficial mayor of Merewether” Mark Richards. MR was accompanied by the last local to win one of Surfest’s major events, Merewether’s Philippa Anderson.

The first event on the Surfest 2015 calendar is the Wildcard Trials that will be held at Birubi beach in Port Stephens on February 1.

A brand new event for Surfest in 2015 is the Lake Macquarie Longboard Classic, which will be held at Redhead beach on February 14 and 15.

The Wandiyali ATSI Indigenous Classic is Australia’s richest competition for Indigenous surfers with a prize pool of $AUS20 000. It is slated for 12-13 February at Merewether beach.

And as always, Surfest will continue its long association and support of grass roots surfing, commencing with the ORICA Surfboard Club Team Challenge which will take place in Stockton from 6-8 February and followed by the Sanbah Cadet Cup presented by Dalton Lawyers from 13-15 February.

On the Friday before finals’ weekend, the Surf Aid Cup will be Surfest’s premier charity event and Super Surfest Sunday will host not only the contest for the coveted Mark Richards’ trophy, but provide the canvas for the aerial shenanigans of young surfers competing in the Visit NSW Airshow and the Tooheys Extra Dry Expression Session.

Surfest chief Warren Smith says he is delighted that Kim Burton and the Burton Automotive Group – formerly Burton Family Toyota – continues to show its support for Surfest.

There’s no arguing that sponsorship for surfing events is tough to secure. Without the support and generosity of the Burton Automotive Group backing our two open ASP-rated events and the High School Teams Challenge, Surfest might not have made it to its 30th milestone with a full slate of competition.

“Kim Burton has been backing Surfest for 11 years now. That’s more than a third of Surfest’s existence and an incredibly long sponsorship relationship in any contemporary sport,” Mr Smith said.

General Manager of Burton Automotive Group Kim Burton said his company was again proud to be supporting an event that provides locals and visitors with great surfing action.

“This will be Maitland Toyota’s 11th year sponsoring Surfest and in 2015 we remain as proud to support the event as we were back in 2004 because of what the event does for surfing and for the Hunter,” Mr Burton said.

“Surfest is a festival that provides opportunities for women and junior surfers and the Burton Automotive Group wanted to see that inclusiveness continue in the event’s anniversary year.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism and Major Events Troy Grant said the NSW Government is proud to support Surfest through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

In 2014, Surfest drove more than 2,900 visitors to Newcastle for the event, generating more than $1.2 million in visitor expenditure in NSW and playing an important role in contributing to the local economy.

General Manager of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Australasia, Dane Jordan, said pro-surfing’s governing body was thrilled to see one of the longest running events on the Australian pro-surfing tour celebrate its 30th anniversary.

“With its impressive history, list of winners and the prestige of having four-time ASP World Champion Mark Richards as event patron, the public can expect to see Australia’s and the world’s best surfers in action alongside the next crop of up-and-coming superstars.”

In another first out of the water, Newcastle Museum will, for the first time, present the full photographic exhibition of surfing in Newcastle from 1956 – 2010 (16 Feb-15 March).

In addition, It’s On! in Newcastle and the Hunter will stage night time activities in association with Surfest in the Honeysuckle precinct

And the students from Newcastle’s Callaghan College will again be provided with work experience opportunities in hospitality and media production throughout the Surfest competition.