16 Aug WOMEN’S EVENT UNDER THREAT
SURFEST organisers have until the end of September to find a sponsor to enable a six-star women’s event in 2015.
While a six-star men’s event is assured for the event’s 30th year thanks to ongoing support from long term sponsor Burton Family Toyota, Surfest chief Warren Smith says the search for a sponsor for an equivalent women’s event is yet to prove fruitful.
It would be a huge blow for the Australian leg of the women’s tour, especially for the local surfers who love the event so much.
Newcastle’s Philippa Anderson was devastated when she learned of the plight of the event she won in 2009.
“It’s shocking hearing there is now major sponsor for next year’s event, Anderson said.
“Obviously having Surfest in my backyard is great for me personally, but having a quality six-star event in Newy means a lot to the Australian girls at the start of the season.”
“It’s so important to us Aussies to surf on our home soil and do well.”
“It just sets us up for the rest of the year.”
Anderson is the region’s most talented female surfer and has been battling her own sponsor dramas this year after being dropped by Roxy due to ‘financial restructuring’.
Despite finishing inside the top 17 in the world for the second consecutive year, Anderson missed out on making the World Tour by the narrowest of margins and she, along with a host of other Australian surfers, must battle it out in the Qualifying series.
But that costs money, and without sponsors, it makes it very hard to get to all the events you have to just for a chance to qualify.
Like so many Australian surfers, Anderson relies on the big events, like Surfest, to put their name in front of local and big name sponsors.
Without that opportunity it makes qualifying almost impossible.
“For any potential sponsors out there, to me Surfest is, and always has been, a huge part of Newcastle, Anderson said.
“This is a beautiful place, with the weather, the community, amazing beaches and our funky restaurants and cafes.”
“The event brings a lot of people into Newcastle. Accommodation, food, and the world gets to see what Newcastle has to offer.
“I think it is so important that the Newcastle business community and the community in general, back this event.”
“We made worldwide headlines when the event was moved to the harbour in 2013 and the girls were absolutely ripping out there, just like the boys were.
“Everyone around the world was talking about it.”
“We just have to have this event.” Anderson pleaded.
Smith said that timing was crucial and the deadline for a cutoff to the event was looming large.
“We have to advise the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) by the end of September whether we are locking in because the surfers are planning their schedules for 2015,” Mr Smith said.
“As of yet we have no sponsor locked in. To run a six-star women’s contest needs $US40,000 just in prize money but there’s unavoidable organisational fees that push the overall cost to around AUD$55,000.
The last four years saw Hunter Sports Group back a six-star women’s competition, resulting in the majority of the world’s top 17 female professionals donning the coloured singlets at Merewether Beach. That sponsorship deal concluded in 2014.
Significant changes to the professional surfing tour through privatisation – and subsequent increases in prize money at the elite level of the sport – mean offering less than a six-star contest may struggle to attract the stellar female talent that has been the staple at Surfest over the past four years.
The ASP Australasia General Manager Dane Jordan said that Surfest is one of the world’s most respected surfing events and that it had hosted some incredible women surfers through its 29-year history.
“Women’s surfing is one of the fasting growing sports in the world in regards to skill progression, level of participation and the amount of attention received from world-wide media and fans, “ he said.
“Women’s surfing promotes healthy living and lifestyle that no other sport or sponsorship opportunity can compare to and Surfest and is a fantastic way to align a brand with the marketing and momentum that is women’s surfing,” Mr Jordan said.
For more information contact: Warren Smith 0412127525.