Surfest: Wildcard Madison Poole ready to take on surfing idols

RIPPING IN: Madison Poole in her Surfest Pro Junior heat on Saturday at Merewether. Poole will be one of four wildcards in the Surfest women's pro. Picture: Paul Danovaro
RIPPING IN: Madison Poole in her Surfest Pro Junior heat on Saturday at Merewether. Poole will be one of four wildcards in the Surfest women's pro. Picture: Paul Danovaro

Madison Poole is excited enough just at the prospect of sharing the contest area with some of the world’s best at Surfest next week after gaining a wildcard into the women’s event.

A dream heat against her idol, two-time winner Sally Fitzgibbons, would just top it off.

The 17-year-old from Lambton learned last week that she had gained a Surfest wildcard into the 6000-point qualifying series contest, which starts next Monday at Merewether.

Poole, who surfs with Merewether Surfboard Club, will take on one of the top seeds, such as world champion Tyler Wright or Fitzgibbons, in the round of 48 at the Grandstand Sports Clinic Women's Pro.

“That will be exciting, surfing against one of the girls I look up to,” Poole said.

“I’d love to surf against Sally Fitzgibbons. I love her style and how she’s always nice. She loves to help out all the young groms and is happy to sign things. Even when she loses, she's always happy and never says anything bad.

“I get to go inside the contest area as well and be around all the pros. That will be very exciting.”

It will be the first time Poole, who competes on the junior tour and in low-level QS events, has come up against elite opposition.

“I’m very keen but very nervous at the same time,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity. It gives me a chance to get points and a better ranking in the comps I'm doing now and, just as a life experience, it will help a lot.”

The year 11 St Francis Xavier’s College student made a round-one exit at the Surfest Pro Junior on the weekend at Merewether. Alyssa Lock won the girls’ event and Callum Robson the boys’. In the 16 years and under Cadet Cup, Jamie Thomson and Molly Picklum were champions. Byron Stapleton took out the 14 and under boys.

“I had a shocker,” Poole said.

“I was really confident because I had a good free surf and went out there and I think I rode the wrong board and I probably wasn’t in the right headspace.

“But that happens. It was probably the worst heat I’ve surfed in a long time but I’ve been surfing every morning and afternoon this week to make sure I don’t surf terrible in my heat next week.”

Poole hopes to one day join surfing’s elite on the championship tour and was focused this year on making an impression on the junior circuit.

“I’d rather be third that fourth, that would help a lot, and it would be amazing to make it through that heat,” she said of her wildcard chance.

“But it’s about focusing on the pro juniors and QSs and trying to make the finals now. I’m only 17 and most of them are turning 18 and it’s their last year, so it would be good to get some better results and maybe get a sponsor.”

Dive deeper: Surfest 2018

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