Taggart Women's Pro

Newcastle Gets Behind Surfest Women's Pro For Second Year Running

sally Chaired Sally Fitz took out the 2016 Taggart Women's Pro. Which one of her CT mates will join her in 2017? We're guessing a few. - WSL / Bennett

After successfully running the world's first crowd funded international sporting event in 2016, Surfest Newcastle is proud to have already fielded a number of applications for the yet to be named 2017 Women's QS6,000 event.

The 2016 Taggart Women's Pro saw current World No. 8 Sally Fitzgibbons overcome 6 x World Champion Stephanie Gilmore in front of record crowds. This historic event was completely funded by businesses in the Newcastle and Hunter region.

Off the back of last year's success the 2017 field has grown from 72 to 84 surfers and the new-and-improved crowd-funding effort will see 85 x $1650 shares snapped up by businesses eager to take advantage of additional perks not offered in the 2016 model. The new additions include a $10,000 marketing budget for the naming-rights sponsor, increased prize pool for the Surfer Draw, surfer and sponsor cocktail party meet-and-greet, a barrel draw luncheon where the winning naming rights sponsor will be revealed and business workshops.

Steph Gilmore In competitive surfing history names don't get much bigger than Stephanie Gilmore - WSL / Sproule

Contest Director Warren Smith said last year was a huge success and this year's improvements will only provide more benefits to shareholders, which will no doubt attract greater funding.

"We launched the campaign two weeks ago and immediately had 38 expressions of interest," Smith said. "We're well past halfway there and that's before going even promoting it in any way. Last year's crowd-funding campaign was by many measures, the most successful event in Surfest's 31-year history."

Sally Fitzgibbons Sal with a trade mark backhand belt. - WSL / Sproule

The WSL is thrilled to be a part of such an amazing and unique event. The crowd funding effort is unlike any other WSL event in the world and WSL Australasia Regional Manager Will Hayden-Smith believes it speaks volumes about the broader Newcastle community.

"Surfest 2016's global success was a world-first for a WSL event," Hayden-Smith said. "There's few contests in the world that have enjoyed the longevity that Surfest has and it's clear why when you see the sense of community in Newcastle. It is a truly groundbreaking experiment and is an approach that should be replicated in other parts of the world to help grow our wonderful sport of surfing."

The crowd-funding effort ensures the Surfest Women's Pro retains it QS6,000 rating, resulting in more prize money, larger audiences and stronger competition with 84 surfers competing for a total prize pool of $50,000 USD.

"Holding that QS6,000 title ensures that the event will draw a host of the world's best," Hayden-Smith added. "With Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons battling out in the final last year and a long list of other Championship Tour competitors doing battle at Merewether, 2017 is sure to attract the best of the best."

Philippa Anderson Will local threat Philippa Anderson take it to the big names in 2017? We think so. - WSL / Bennett

All 85 shares will go in a draw to become the naming-rights sponsor of the contest valued at $85,000. The winner of the sponsor draw will also receive a $10,000 marketing and PR budget to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Each shareholder gains two tickets to a cocktail function the week of the contest and is allocated a surfer who competes in the event. The businesses with the top four finishers in the event share a minimum prize pool of $12,000.

Presentation A seriously star-studded podium at 2016 Surfest. - WSL / Will H-S