MANLY BEACH, SYD/AUS (Saturday, March 8, 2020) - This week, the surfing world will shift it's attention to the iconic Manly Beach as the first-ever World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series event, the Sydney Surf Pro, commences tomorrow. Offering 10,000 qualifying points for both Men's and Women's winners, the strongest field seen in Sydney will assemble, with over 200 of the world's best surfers, including 31 Championship Tour (CT) athletes, to compete between March 8-14.
Current World Number 11 Julian Wilson (AUS) will join 19 men's CT athletes, as well as 12 women's CT surfers, for Australia's first-ever Challenger Series event. Wilson will be looking to test himself against the competition in Manly, a location that has a long history in professional surfing since it hosted the first World Championships in 1964.
"We're really deserving of a Challenger Series event in this part of the world," Wilson said. "It's been almost a decade since Australia has had an event with 10,000 qualifying points on offer so to have one back is a great thing for surfing in this country. The field looks so strong this year which is really exciting for us as surfers and for the spectators -- the level of surfing will be so high. Having a huge event like this at a place like Manly is really fitting, there is so much history with competitive surfing and that stretch of sand. It's the perfect place to start the Challenger Series."
Wilson's fellow Australian Olympic Team provisional qualifier Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) is another one of the marquee surfers set to get her 2020 competitive season off and running at Manly. The current World number 5 has had plenty of success competing at Manly in the past and is excited to see the newly announced Challenger Series commence on Australian shores.
"I haven't competed at Manly for a few years but it has some great memories for me from winning the first Australian Open event to competing in my first CT event as a wildcard in the Beachley Classic," Fitzgibbons said. "It is one of Australia's premier surfing towns with an enthusiastic surf culture, great shops and plenty of cafes. I live a few hours down the coast but it still feels like a home event for me. I look forward to competing in my first Challenger series event at the Sydney Pro."
The third Australian Olympic Team Provisional Qualifier set to compete at the Sydney Surf Pro is current world number 9 Owen Wright (AUS) who is looking forward to launching what is sure to be his biggest competitive year at Manly this week.
Last year when a QS event ran at Manly, Northern Beaches local Jordy Lawler (AUS) won the Sydney Surf Pro, overcoming the likes of 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater to do so. In 2020, with more points on offer than ever, Lawler looks to go back-to-back at Manly with aspirations of qualifying for the Elite CT by years end.
"I'm excited to have the Challenger Series kick off in Manly this year," Lawler said. "I feel like I know what it takes to win there and am confident I can do it again. It means a lot to surfers like myself to finally have an event of this size and prestige in Australia. I hope it goes a long way to helping more Aussie surfers qualify for the Championship Tour over the next few years."
Other massive surfing names set to compete in Manly this week include reigning four-time WSL World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW), two-time World Champion Tyler Wright (AUS), 2015 World Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA), along with Malia Manuel (HAW), Ryan Callinan (AUS) and Jack Freestone (AUS) to name a few.
The Sydney Surf Pro WSL Challenger Series event will run from March 8 through 14, 2020.