Ports Stephens bids for major surfing event

PORT Stephens is in line to host one of the major events on the women’s World Qualifying Series surfing tour in November.

DRAWCARD: Sally Fitzgibbons.

DRAWCARD: Sally Fitzgibbons.

The Newcastle Herald understands that the Sydney International Women’s Pro, a first-time event held last year at Cronulla, is in danger of being scrapped after a sponsorship shortfall.

Port Stephens Council has expressed interest in filling the void and hosting the season-ending six-star contest, which would play a crucial role in determining who qualifies for the 17 spots on next year’s World Championship Tour.

The expected demise of the Cronulla event has left World Surf League officials racing to find an alternative, because WCT contenders are relying on the chance to compete for 6000 qualifying points.

The Herald has been told a WSL delegation met with council representatives this week to negotiate a deal.

Last year’s Cronulla competition attracted 96 surfers from 12 nations – headed by superstar Sally Fitzgibbons – which made it numerically the biggest WSL women’s event in 2016.

An estimated 100,000 spectators attended over the four days of the carnival. 

Port Stephens has an array of locations that could provide quality waves, in particular Birubi and One Mile beaches.

If Port Stephens is successful in securing the contest, it would mean that two of the six biggest WQS events of the year are staged in this region.

Newcastle’s Surfest, held each February, is also a six-star event, worth 6000 qualifying points.

Merewether’s Philippa Anderson, currently holding down a top-10 WQS rankings, will be hoping to clinch a berth on next year’s WCT tour at the season finale.