You would think that an amazing beach like Sydney’s Manly, would have been a lock for every surf competition since the beginning of time. But alas, with so many other beaches, Manly has been sitting on the back burner for some time. It finally got the glory it deserved with the inaugural Australian Open of Surfing last week.
As an inaugural event, few big names were presents – no Slaters or Beachleys – although Aussie Joel Parkinson did grace the event with his presence. But no matter who was at the event, it was clear where the talent lay. It ended up being a week for the young’ns with three out of the four big winners under the age of 25, and two younger than twenty.
The Australians dominated the surfing competition with Sally Fitzgibbons (22, AUS) and Matt Banting (18, AUS) taking the titles. As part of the ASP Star Series, and a qualifying event for the ASP World Title Series at the end of the year, both have won points to improve their ratings for the tour.
Fitzgibbons took out Peruvian all-star, and previous ASP World Tour winner, Sofia Mulanovich to win the title, which was especially impressive as Fitzgibbons has only recently recovered from an injured wrist. Banting took on another young gun, US surfer Evan Geiselman, who got to the finals by showing off his famous aerial game. Banting battled hard and won the title by just over one point.
But this was the inaugural event and they were doing it big so surfing wasn’t the only thing on the roster. The beach was just as fun as the ocean with the Beach Bowl, a skating competition, happening concurrently. Nicky Guerrero (DEN) took out the professionals division with Pedro Barros (BRA) winning the amateur competition. Barros is a previous X Games champion and proved his worth here is Australia. Popular opinion is that these guys will start to gain an Australian following after these stellar performances.
Overall, the event was a success with many activities including art and markets upping the ante for the event. Manly Beach will be hosting again next year and I hope to see you all there!