Surfest’s Orica Team Challenge has full field

(Stockton Beach, NSW, AUSTRALIA 2 February 2017)

TWENTY teams of surfers will converge on Stockton Beach this weekend, ensuring 2017 will be the strongest Orica Team Challenge yet.

And there’ll be plenty of action out of the water as well, with the hugely popular 3 Peas Markets being held again at ‘The Pines’ on Stockton Beach on Sunday, capping a huge weekend in this iconic Newcastle location.

This year’s surfing competition is offering $10,000 in prize money, with the winning team pocketing a tidy $5000.

Surfest chief Warren Smith says 2017 is the first time the Orica Team Challenge could not accommodate all teams wanting to take part.

“The demand for a spot in the 2017 Orica Team Challenge was beyond expectations and we still had clubs wanting to get in as recently as this week. It’s one of the richest club surfboard competitions in Australia and is continuing to grow in popularity.

“We want to engage with the rapidly evolving surfboard club culture that is being reinvigorated across the Australian coastline,” Smith said.

North Narrabeen Boardriders are the defending champions of the Orica tag-team event, and the team boasts 2003 Surfest champion Dayyan Neve.

But they won’t have it all their own way, with North Avalon and North Shelly fielding strong teams. Merewether has entered an impressive line-up that includes Craig Anderson, Jackson Baker, Morgan Cibilic, Travis Lynch and Luke Hamilton.

The Bay Area Boardriders Club have entered two teams and are hoping to better their best effort third placing in the 2015 event.

“Last year we placed fifth. In the last two years we have made it into the prize money rounds but the big $5000 first place cheque has still eluded us,” Bay Area Boardriders Club spokesperson David Voyzey said.

“The three-man team format suits small clubs like ours and gives us an opportunity to represent and compete close to home.”

Redhead earned a wildcard entry into the event by winning the Orica tag-team trial at the Lake Mac Festival of Surfing on Sunday.