COOLANGATTA, QLD / AUS (Thursday, August 27, 2020) - Gold Coast surfers Chris Bennetts and Sayaka Muramatsu have been named as the wildcards for the upcoming Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast on South Stradbroke Island. The pair have been picked as the top performers for their club North End Boardriders and will face off with Australia's best surfer's through September and October as part of the World Surf League's Australian Grand Slam of Surfing.
Former WSL Qualifying Series competitor turned Gold Coast lifeguard Chris Bennetts has been indulging in the perfect peaks of South Straddie for over 20 years. Born and bred at Main Beach and dominating club rounds throughout his surfing life, Bennetts was an obvious choice when the North End Boardriders Club put a name forward for their male Wildcard.
"I was actually blown away to get offered this wildcard spot," Bennetts said. "I used to compete on the Junior Series and QS when I was younger but have been focussing on lifeguarding and a Medical Imaging degree in recent years so I haven't competed in a WSL over 5 years. Last time I was in a QS I was eliminated by John John Florence. Surfing against the best CT guys in Australia will be so fun -- it will be like the old days competing and travelling with guys like Wade, Owen and Jack."
"If Straddie can keep delivering the waves it has this winter it will be epic," Bennetts continued. "It's been one of the best winters in year's over there and it could be a full barrel riding comp. If that's the case, I might make a heat or two."
Having moved from Japan to reside on the Gold Coast a few years ago, former QS competitor Sayaka Muramatsu is a standout member of the North End Boardriders Club and has been awarded the women's wildcard into the event. Muramatsu dominates club events and revels in the surf at South Stradbroke so was a no-brainer to take the spot which was selected by North End Boardriders Club officials.
"It's so great to be competing again in 2020 - especially as a wildcard in this event," Muramatsu said. "I can't wait for the challenge -- I'd love to compete against Stephanie Gilmore, she is my favourite surfer and is always smiling. Competing with her would be a dream. South Straddie is very close to my home so I surf there a lot. It is a perfect and powerful wave and will be so good to hold this contest there. I'm so thankful that my club, North End Boardriders chose me to compete here. I really hope to do the club proud when the competition gets underway."
The Australian Grand Slam events which make up part of the global WSL Countdown Series will also be the first event to be surfed since March for Championship Tour rookies Jack Robinson and Isabella Nichols. Robinson, a Boost Mobile ambassador, is hoping for hollow conditions and big ramps at Straddie so he can lean on his finesse in the tube and prowess above the lip.
"South Stradbroke is such an epic spot for a contest like this," Robinson said. "It has everything you want in a wave; Barrels, turn sections and big ramps for airs. It's bound to be an exciting event. It will be great for the fans to be able to tune in and get excited again."
Nichols, who now calls the Gold Coast home, can't wait to see what South Stradbroke delivers during the waiting period as she has been putting in the hours on the island during the break-in competition.
"I can't remember the last time I had such a big gap between competing," Nichols said. "It's been almost six months and the thought of pulling on a competition jersey so soon is so exciting to me. It will be so cool to compete at South Stradbroke, one of the best waves on the Gold coast, and see where I'm at against the best women in Australia. Plus it's a huge bonus that I'll be able to do so while sleeping at home in my own bed."
The Australian Grand Slam of Surfing, part of The WSL Countdown Series, will see 24 of Australia's best surfers (12 men and 12 women) go head to head in their respective divisions. 11 male CT competitors and 8 female CT competitors will be on standby for each stop, some looking to compete for the first time in 2020. The remaining spots in each field will be allocated to the highest ranked 2019 non-qualifying Australian surfers or selected wildcard surfers.
The broadcast-only ‘strike mission' style events, not designed for spectators due to COVID, will see WSL surfers based in Australia given just three days' notice within the competition window, to travel to each location to compete over two days. Surf conditions will determine which location is surfed and when to make sure surfers compete in the best conditions possible.
Adding to the high stakes, men's and women's overall series champions will each win $20,000AUD to donate to a charity of their choice.
The Australian Grand Slam of Surfing will run across the nation between September 1 and October 31 and be broadcast live on worldsurfleague.com, Channel 7 (7Plus), Fox Sports Australia (Kayo) and Sky Sport NZ.
For more information on this and the WSL Countdown Series, please visit www.worldsurfleague.com.
The Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast is supported by the City of Gold Coast and the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland, and features on the It's Live! in Queensland events calendar.
The Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast couldn't happen without the valued support of Boost Mobile, Tourism and Events Queensland, City of Gold Coast, Boost Mobile, Jeep, Bonsoy, Hydro Flask, Harvey Norman, Wingman, Seven Network, Fox Sports Australia and Sky Sport NZ.