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It’s all systems go for Surfest in 2023, says Smith

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After the success of Surfest earlier this year, it’s all systems go heading into 2023, according to director Warren Smith.

Following a COVID-enforced hiatus, the prestigious Newcastle surfing event returned with a vengeance in March, hosting nine pro and amateur competitions… with a few surprises thrown in.

But, the icing on the cake was witnessing Merewether champion Jackson Baker claim the major honours, with another homegrown star Ryan Callinan shining, too.

“I have to admit, it was great to be back [in action] and seeing all the surfers here again,” Smith said.

“Having a local winner in Jackson (Baker) topped it all off.

“We endured some bad weather, and we encountered some huge swell we hadn’t seen for a while, however the final day was ‘epic’.

“In fact, it will go down as one of the finest moments in Surfest history.

“Anything that’s been around for almost four decades has to deal with issues, from the elements to sponsorship, from the competitors to whatever.

“But, to see someone like Jackson lift the trophy, it makes it all worthwhile.

“It was a great finale, with another Merewether boy in Ryan (Callinan) finishing third.

“From my perspective, it was a terrific result.”

Smith said plans for the 2023 extravaganza were already gathering momentum.

“The Surfest crowd-funding is well into play,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“That’s a massive credit to Col Law and the team.

“And, recently, to host the Meg Purser Pathway Program for the female surfers – and our young stars of the future – is really something that we’re all very, very proud of.

“It’s a great concept.

“To have someone like Philippa Anderson, who’s definitely a role model and an ambassador not just for women’s surfing but for being a beautiful human being, is terrific, too.”

As for the competition, itself, Smith expects all the events will return to the program.

“Our main week at Merewether will be 20 to 26 March,” he said.

“At this stage, there are no changes.

“We’re also hoping the women’s team event is back.

“That was hugely successful, however we’re waiting to hear from Surfing NSW about that comp.

“If there’s any chance to facilitate, and stage, it here, we’ll do it.

“But, I need to thank everyone for playing their part and being understanding… it’s an inconvenience sometimes, however I think we’re all proud of the event.

“Surfest wouldn’t happen without the support of the community, locals and businesses.”

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