Merewether surfer Philippa Anderson was testing the waters at Birubu Beach, Anna Bay, on Monday and planning to spend more time training at the break where her maiden championship tour hopes will likely go on the line next month.
The Herald revealed on September 20 the likelihood of Port Stephens hosting the 6000-point season-ending qualifying series event in place of Sally Fitzgibbons’ Sydney International Women’s Pro, which was believed to have been cancelled because of a sponsorship shortfall.
The new November 2-5 event was listed as the Port Stephens Toyota NSW Pro on the World Surf League schedule a week later.
The Herald was told on Monday that NSW government funding of the event had been finalised and an official launch of the contest was imminent.
The event, which carries the highest women’s QS rating of 6000 points, will decide the CT hopes of Anderson and many other surfers worldwide as they chase a top-six QS year-ending finish to book their 2018 tour spots. The top 10 CT surfers, a wildcard and the leading six from the QS, who did not re-qualify through the leading tour, will make up the 2018 line-up. Anderson sits 10th on the QS and seventh in the race when current CT standings are considered. She was runner-up at the first Sydney International Women’s Pro last year at Cronulla when out of CT calculations and was thrilled to now have a chance even closer to home to go a step further.
“It’s great to still have the last event in Australia,” Anderson said. “That’s huge for the Australian girls and for myself, just being up the road, it’s awesome.”
Anderson has only the 3000-point White Buffalo Women's Pro in Japan from October 26-29 and the Birubi Beach contest to improve in the rankings, which are based on each surfer’s best five results.
“It’s pretty tricky, with the CT event on, but I don’t really look at the ratings too much. Whatever happens, happens,” she said.
“I know I’m in the picture, I have one or two good results. On the QS there’s a couple of girls who have already qualified because they’ve done really well, like Silvana [Lima] and Caroline [Marks], but there’s a whole bunch of us who might have a handful of results but only one or two are keepers, so there’s a heap of us in the same boat.
“It’s going to be interesting the last two events.”
A two-time winner on the QS this year, Anderson will warm up for the decisive events at the 56th annual Mattara Surf Classic at South Bar Beach on October 21 and 22.
Michilis has come on board as naming-rights sponsor of Mattara, which had its women’s division prizemoney later doubled to $2000 by another benefactor. The men’s event has a first prize of $3000.
Until then, the South African-born natural footer was planning to make many more trips to Birubi Beach.
“My Dad and I went up there this morning to have a surf,” she said on Monday.
“I go up there every now and then with a few friends who surf, just for fun, because we’ve got a few friends up that way.
“I’ve surfed there a handful of times since I’ve been in Australia. It’s not on my list of places to go when there’s waves, but I’ll definitely be going there a lot in the next few weeks just to practice up there.”