2019 marks the Newcastle Surfest’s 34th anniversary – an event that attracts over 850 national and international competitors from more than two dozen countries
In what could be called less than inspiring but still highly surfable conditions, Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons has triumphed over a number of other high-profile surfers in order to claim victory in the women’s Holmes Civil Developments Pro, while Brazil’s Alex Ribeiro took out the men’s Burton Automotive Pro beating fellow countryman and World Tour competitor Jadson Andre in a tit-for-tat aerial shootout.
Sally Fitzgibbons can now add her name to a distinguished list of three-time Newcastle Surfest winners that includes the likes of Mick Fanning, Pam Burridge and Rebecca Woods. A feat that feels even more well-deserved considering Sally has only just recovered from a fractured shoulder and was at one point earlier in the week contemplating pulling out of the event altogether.
After digging deep and tapping into her inner competitive fire though, Sally tore through the field and managed to secure a place in the finals of the Holmes Civil Developments Pro, where she dispatched a determined Isabella Nichols to take first place.
To cap off an epic matchup between these two women, Isabella even managed to chair Sally up the beach showing what a class act she is even in defeat.
In the men’s, Alex Ribeiro had no such pre-competition concerns in the leadup to his final’s bout even though he was out of action for the bulk of last year with an ankle injury.
Jadson Andre, on the other hand, felt like he was suffering from a somewhat mental niggle throughout the event, going as far to admit that he’d been trying to visualise winning all week, but for some reason could only ever envision himself getting second.
Self-fulfilling prophecies aside, it was Alex Ribeiro’s ability to capitalise on the many peaky ramps that Merewether rolled out that allowed him to punt his way to victory, earning 6,000 points in the process.
The crowing of Sally and Alex signalled the end of the Newcastle Surfest finals and wrapped up a massive weekend for the city. A weekend that saw events such as The Drop Festival making its muddy but highly-successful debut on Saturday night and Barrelled Festival providing Novocastrians and out of towners alike with plenty of opportunities to sip on local wine, wet their lips with some of the best craft brews going around and sample a bevvy of delectable dishes served up by leading producers in the region.
In other good news for Newcastle, The Evolution Charity Cup corporate tag-team style surf event also hit its $100k fundraising target at the Surfest. Thereby ensuring the Mark Hughes Foundation receives the funds it needs to continue promoting research, heightening awareness and supporting brain cancer patients (both children and adults) and their families within the community.
Surfest Newcastle Australia 2019 was made possible through the support of Burton Automotive, the NSW Government through Destination NSW, crowdfunding from the Newcastle business community, Orica, The City of Newcastle and Wandiyali. The event will feature international fields of competitive surfers in the Burton Automotive Pro (World Surf League Men’s Qualifying Series 6000 point event), the Holmes Civil Developments Women’s Pro (World Surf League Women’s Qualifying Series 6000 point event) and the Lake Mac City Pro Junior (World Surf League Qualifying Series 1000 point event) along with a broad range of complementary surfing events.
Feature image credit: Paul Danovaro
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