They told us it was going to rain, and not just rain, but storm all weekend. In fact it was a 95% certainty on Sunday, but did that stop the crowds from heading to Surfest? Hell no!
Event Overview|Image by Pau Danovaro
The area was a buzz of activity throughout the entire weekend with thousands heading down to enjoy the festival atmosphere as Merewether came alive with markets, music and food stalls.
But while the party played out on land, activity out in the water caused just a little disappointed for some as our locals and crowd favourites were knocked out well before the final.
How it played out in the Anditi Women’s Pro
| Johanne Defay – Anditi Women’s Pro winner in action
Super Saturday brought with it an increase in swell, massive crowds and non-stop action for Day 6 of competition.
The Quarterfinalists were decided for both the Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Pro and the Anditi Women’s Pro as Merewether produced some pumping 4-to-5 foot waves for some of the world’s best surfers.
“I have had a fair bit of experience surfing out on the point so when we moved up there I was pretty comfortable”Johanne DefayIt wasn’t such a super day for everyone though, as crowd favourite and reigning Surfest Women’s champ Sally Fitzgibbons lost her opportunity to go back-to-back at the Anditi Women’s Pro, losing out in the Quarters to current Women’s World Champion 16 year-old Central Coast surfer Macy Callaghan.
Although some would see the result as an upset, Callaghan said she knew she was making it to the finals series regardless of who she came up against.
“My plan was to make it to at least the Quarterfinals no matter what,” Callaghan said.
“I have had a fair bit of experience surfing out on the point so when we moved up there I was pretty comfortable. It was daunting coming up against Sally, she is an amazing surfer so it feels great to win against her.”
Callaghan’s celebrations were short lived however, with The Anditi Women’s Pro Final eventually be fought out by two of the event’s underdogs in France’s Johanne Defay and Kiwi Paige Hareb.
In what went on to be a mostly one-sided affair, Defay came out of the gates early to post a 7.50 single wave score and then back it up with an incredible 9.23 excellent wave for a heat total of 16.23. Her power for drawn out forehand turns were a great indication of why Defay finished fifth in the world in 2016. Although she won the Fiji Pro in 2016 this was the first ever QS event win of Defay’s career.
“I feel so great with this win,” Defay said.
“The waves were super tricky today so I had to be really onto where the waves were. I have never won a QS event before so to win the first one of the season is amazing. I have had a few close calls with re-qualifying in the past so this result will mean I can relax a little. I feel really comfortable in Newcastle and always enjoy it, now it is even more special to me.”
How it played out in the Maitland & Port Stephens Toyota Pro
| Image by Throwing Buckets: Maitland & Port Maitland & Port Stephens Toyota Pro winner Yago Dora
In the Maitland & Port Stephens Toyota Pro, Brazilian aerial sensation Yago Dora continued his successful run at Merewether, entertaining the Saturday crowds with an incredible display of power and progressive surfing.
His heat total of 18.33 (out of a possible 20) left his opponent Tanner Gudauskas in a combination situation (needing two scores).
“The waves got really good for that heat, it was non-stop from the start,” Dora said.
“When I got that 8.00 point ride early my confidence built and I just wanted to keep building on it which is what I did.”
“I was going to bed early and eating well and taking it all seriously so to see all of that pay off is awesome. The conditions the last few days were perfect for me, which was good. I just want to get to Manly now and keep surfing heats and get a roll on.”Yago DoraThe young Brazilian continued his run in good form on Sunday posting massive heat totals on his way to the final with his trademark fins free and aerial surfing.
Dora eventually came up against Brazilian countryman Jesse Mendes in the final.
As with heats earlier in the event, Dora started conservatively to get in a rhythm and once he was comfortable began to unleash.
Throughout the final, Dora thrilled the crowd with some incredible airs on big sections earning an excellent 8.83 (out of a possible 10) single wave score.
True to previous heats, once feeling comfortable, he launched off a big end section to pull a mammoth full rotation air-reverse to earn the only perfect 10-point ride of the event. His heat total of 18.83 (out of a possible 10) was the highest of the entire event and enough to take the title.
“I don’t think it has really sunk in yet,” Dora said.
“Having that final with Jesse was funny because the last time we surfed against each other he smashed me so it was awesome to get one back on him, he is a really good friend. This was the most focused I have been for an event.”
Dora isn’t generally known for his competitive prowess and is more noted for his incredible appearances in free-surfing movies. The first QS6,000 of the year saw a shift in focus for Dora as he looks towards qualifying for the elite Championship Tour (CT).
“I was going to bed early and eating well and taking it all seriously so to see all of that pay off is awesome. The conditions the last few days were perfect for me, which was good. I just want to get to Manly now and keep surfing heats and get a roll on.”
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