SURFEST organisers are hoping a sense of unfinished business, a desire to win the Mark Richards Trophy and a connection with Merewether’s Luke Egan will bring newly crowned world champion Joel Parkinson back to the event in February.
Parkinson, who clinched his maiden world title on Sunday with victory at Pipeline, was a headline act along with West Australian Taj Burrow in the men’s pro at Surfest this year after the Merewether event achieved a six-star World Qualifying Series rating for the first time.
However, the Gold Coast star bombed out in small and inconsistent surf in his first heat, the round of 96.
The early exit was a blow to Surfest, which had not lured Parkinson to the event in more than a decade. He will be even higher on the hit-list for organisers after his world title win and they will be hoping his drive to collect the Mark Richards Trophy will help.
“It would be a blessing to get that trophy,” Parkinson said before last year’s event.
‘‘We have events all over the world that are well known for their special trophies and this one is special because of its heritage, it would look great at home in my house.”
Surfest organiser Warren Smith said he had sent Parkinson his congratulations, but he would not start approaching World Championship Tour surfers about coming to the event until the end of this week.
Another plus for Surfest in luring Parkinson is his friendship with Gold Coast-based Egan, who is also a former coach of the new world champion and was a wildcard this year at Merewether.
But Smith said Parkinson’s success would also make it hard to attract his services.
‘‘You have to appreciate now that he’s world champion everyone will be asking for him, especially in Australia,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ll just have to see. Hopefully Luke Egan can put in a good word for us.’’
Surfest was also able to attract NSW south coast star Sally Fitzgibbons and 2011 world champion Carissa Moore to the women’s classic this year.
Smith said luring elite tour talent to second-tier events would be even more difficult given the global downturn in sponsorship but he remained hopeful of having big-name surfers on board again.
‘‘We always look after our top seeds with care packages and we’re weighing up that for next year now,’’ Smith said. ‘‘With the current environment of events losing sponsors, our main focus was on getting the event on.
‘‘Now that’s all done, we are trying to assess what we can do to help our top seeds enjoy their time here and make it attractive for them to come.’’
Entries for the six-star men’s and women’s events and the pro junior contests opened this week and close on January 18.
Baker bounces back to grab title at Coolum
MEREWETHER surfer Jackson Baker put the disappointment of falling short in the Australian junior titles behind him to take out the under 16 boys’ national final of the Grom Search at Coolum Beach yesterday.
Baker was third in the NSW Grom Search finals on Monday but dominated the national final, which brought together the four event winners this year.
He put together scores of 7.83 and 8.63 in the opening 10 minutes of the 25-minute final yesterday to record a clear victory and book a place in an international event at Bells Beach in March.
In his first year of the under16s age group, Baker has also won Occy’s Grom Comp on the Gold Coast in July and the Grom Search at Torquay in Victoria in October.