Feature: Surfest

Power, Punts and Passion

Malia Manuel Surfest Final . Photo: Nathan Bloemers

Malia Manuel

During my stay here in Australia I was lucky enough to attend Newcastle’s iconic annual Surfest…and it was a good one! With two 6-Star WQS events, the men’s Burton Toyota Pro and the Hunter Ports Women’s Classic, Surfest certainly attracted some of the best of the surfing world. After being crowned Surfest 2013 Champion, Joel Parkinson returned to defend his title along with the likes of WCT’s Adriano De Souza. as well as World Tour hopefuls and Merewether local hero’s Ryan Callinan and Jake Sylvester. And the women…well we were in for a treat with 11 out of 17 of the WCT’s women attending, only a slight disappointment with Sally Fitzgibbons dropping out last minute due to an injury.

With small conditions in the early part of the week, both the men’s and the women’s events saw major upsets in the early rounds, losing both Steph Gilmore, and Joel Parkinson. But this didn’t dampen any spirits as surf fans flocked to Merewether beach in increasing numbers to watch the week of competition unfold.

Although last year’s winner, Australia’s Dimity Stoyle, was knocked out in the Quarter Final by Sage Erickson she still displayed her trademark powerful surfing, and throughout the competition looked like a real contender for the title.

Dimity Stoyle styling Surfest . Photo: Nathan Bloemers

Dimity Stoyle styling.  Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Another standout performance was Brazils self-funded Silvana Lima, with her progressive style and damn near landing an air reverse in one of her heats, [a rare manoeuvre to be attempted in women’s competition even at WCT level]. Silvana is an interesting story in her own right; during her World Title bid in 2012, she suffered a knee injury early in the season and was forced to take the rest of the season off to rehabilitate. Receiving an injury wildcard in 2013, Silvana had to pay her own tour costs after being dropped by all her sponsors. She failed to requalify for the 2014 season, not due to poor results, but because of the amount of results she was able to collect due to lack of funding. This lead to the innovative project Silvana Free; rather than seeking conventional sponsorship from apparel brands looking for athlete come bikini models, Silvana is asking us, the surf fans, to help raise the funds for her 2014 tour bid. Check out Silvana Free for more information.

The powerhouse Silvana Lima

The powerhouse Silvana Lima. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

But for me, [and clearly the judges], it was the Hawaiians who really shone, with Malia Manuel, Nage Melamand, and Alessa Quizon showcasing consistant power and style not only in the competition but also during freesurfing sessions between heats. The exciting all-Hawaiian Final resulted in Malia Manuel being crowned the Hunter Port Women’s Classic Champion, with Alessa Quizon in a worthy second place.

It was fantastic to see the support for the Womens event match that of the Men’s. The beach was swarming with the next generation of female surfers all chasing down photos and signatures of their hero’s.

Fans out in full force

Fans out in full force for Hawaiians Alessa Quizon and Naga Melamed. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

As for the Men’s Burton Toyota Pro, it was non-stop action. Losing local aerialist Ryan Callinan in the early rounds, hopes of a home win were finally dashed by Guadeloupe’s Charles Martin, taking out Merewether’s other local hopeful Jake Sylvester in Round of 16 by only 1.34 points. But it was Port Macquarie’s Matt Banting’s day; just scraping through the Quarter Final against New Zealand’s Billy Stairmand, the 19 year old went on to a convincing win in the Semi-Finals against Brazil’s WCT Surfer Adriano De Souza. It all came down the Final showdown against competition veteran Nathan “The Hog” Hedge, known for his power and precision, but it was the progressive surfing of Matt Banting that won out. Pulling out all the stops with big airs and sharp turns, Banting threw down two nine point rides, taking the Burton Toyota Pro Title in style!

Matt Banting going big in the Final

Matt Banting pulling out all the tricks in the Final. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

All in all it was an incredible week, with explosive surfing, even in the sometimes average conditions, and a great turnout of spectators to watch it all go down.

Newcastles surfing legend Mark Richard [aka “MR” or “The Wounded Seagull”] was one of the founding members of Surfest. Now in its 29th year, Surfest is Australia’s largest surf festival. For more information about the event check out Surfest.

All photos copyright of SaltyLips’ resident photographer, Nathan Bloemers.

Nage Melamed

Nage Melamed busting the fins out. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Rookie of the Year Bianca Buitendag congratulating Nage Melamed on her heat win

2013 Rookie of the Year Bianca Buitendag congratulating Nage Melamed on her heat win. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

The man himself...Joel Parkinson

The man himself…Joel Parkinson. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Parko Hack

Parko threw down some big turns, but still got knocked out. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Surfest office...where all the magic happens...

The Surfest judging tower… Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Freesurf air

Freesurf mute grab. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

My how the tour has changed...Yadin Nicol which his little one in tow

My how the tour has changed…Yadin Nicol with his little one in tow. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Freesurf big air

Going big in the freesurf session. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Surfest spectators

Surfest pulling in a crowd even during the week. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

What a get-up...

What a get-up…I want one (floaty not baby that is…) Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Silvana Lima power turn

Silvana Lima power turn. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Laura Enever and her entourage of grommie chicks

Laura Enever and her entourage of grommie chicks. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Alessa Quizon beach signing sesh with some super stoked grommie chicks!

Alessa Quizon beach signing sesh with some super stoked grommie chicks! Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Laura Enever cutback

Laura Enever putting it on rail. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Freesurf Airtime

Local boy Ryan Callinan was knocked out early but put on a show freesurfing. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Laure Enever turn

Laure Enever off the top. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Future womens surfing champs in the making...?

Future womens surfing champs in the making… Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Parko turn

Parko slide. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Parko post heat

Parko post heat. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Jake Sylvester spray

Merewether local Jake Sylvester blowing up…knocked out just before the Quarters. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Dillon Perillo

Dillon Perillo power slide. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Silvana Lima power turn

Silvana Lima consistently ripping! Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Sage Erickson

Sage Erickson carve. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Dimity Stoyle styling

Dimity Stoyle styling. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Silvana Lima air reverse attempt

Silvana Lima air reverse attempt…nearly landed it too… Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Silvana Lima...check out http://www.silvanafree.com/

Silvana Lima self funded tour bid…check out Silvana Free. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Nage Melamed cutty

Nage Melamed hack. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Alessa Quizon fins out

Alessa Quizon fins out. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Flying high

Ryan Callinan flying high again. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Alessa Quizon's beautiful backhand

Alessa Quizon’s beautiful backhand. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Adriano De Souza

Adriano De Souza in the Semi-Final against Matt Banting was a good one. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Great sportsmanship... WCT Adriano De Souza congratulating underdog Matt Banting on heat win

Great sportsmanship… WCT Adriano De Souza congratulating underdog Matt Banting on heat win. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Malia Manuel pulling out all the stops in the Final against Alessa Quizon

Malia Manuel pulling out all the stops in the Final against Alessa Quizon. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Malia Manuel in full flow in the Final!

Malia Manuel in full flow in the Final! Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Alessa Quizon fighting back in the Final

Alessa Quizon fighting back in the Final. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Malia Manuel throwing down a huge turn and taking the Final!

Malia Manuel throwing down a huge turn and taking the Final! Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

A winners smile... Malia Manuel takes the tite!

A winners smile… Malia Manuel takes the title! Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Consolation for Alessa Quizon...an amazing competition but lust losing out in the Final

Consolation for Alessa Quizon…an amazing competition but just losing out in the Final. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Nathan Hedge going vertical in the Final against Matt Banting

Nathan Hedge going vertical in the Final against Matt Banting. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Matt Banting Final

Matt Banting showcasing his smooth, powerful style. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

A super stoked Matt Banting takes the Title!

A super stoked Matt Banting takes the Title! Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Matt Banting...a Champions escort to the podium

Matt Banting…a Champions escort to the podium. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Malia Manuel all smiles...Trophy and Cheque in hand!

Malia Manuel all smiles…Trophy and Cheque in hand! Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Malia Mauel and Alessa Quizon...the all Hawaiin Finalists!

Malia Mauel and Alessa Quizon…the all Hawaiin Finalists! Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Newcastles legend and Surfest patron Mark Richard aka MR

Newcastles legend and Surfest patron Mark Richard aka MR. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

Nathan Hedge...stoked on his Second Place MR Trophy

Nathan Hedge…stoked on his Second Place MR Trophy. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

The Money Shot...The Champion Matt Banting

The Money Shot…The Champion Matt Banting. Photo: SaltyLips|Nathan Bloemers

 

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