Sydney, Thursday September 24: NSW Premier and member for Manly Mike Baird, former World Champions Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo and Damien Hardman and newly Crowned WSL Australasia Junior Champion Isabella Nichols dropped in on iconic Manly Beach today to announce the return of the Australian Open of Surfing for 2016.
The free nine-day event will be staged from February 27-March 6, creating the ultimate end of summer celebration at the birthplace of surfing in Australia.
As part of the announcement, Premier Baird confirmed that The Australian Open of Surfing has been secured for Manly for the next three years by the NSW Government, through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW in partnership with IMG, and that the event will be sanctioned by the World Surf League for the next three years.
The event is part of the WSL Qualifying Series, and will attract the world’s best surfers to compete for valuable points and prize money.
With massive crowds enjoying some of the world’s best surf, skate and music action this year, 2016 is set to attract even larger numbers to Sydney’s Manly Beach.
NSW Premier and member for Manly Mike Baird said, “My love for surfing and the ocean is no secret and I’m so happy this great event has been secured at my local beach for the next three years,” Mr Baird said.
“The Northern Beaches really comes alive when this event is on and it’s a great opportunity for tourists to visit the best beach in the world and experience Australian surf culture.”
Occy said, “I’m looking forward to experiencing the event again in February. It’s unique to have a WSL sanctioned event of this calibre, and that is so accessible, so close to the heart of Sydney. And Manly always turns it on; the buzz around the event is amazing. Everyone loves coming to Sydney and Manly Beach.”
Northern Beaches local Damien Hardman adds, “I’ve surfed Manly and the Northern Beaches since I moved to Narrabeen, and started school in Manly, when I was ten years old. I won the ’87 world title at Manly Beach it has always been special to me. It’s awesome to see the Australian Open of Surfing bringing the world’s best surfers back to Manly to compete.”
Currently sitting on top of the Australasian rankings on the WSL Junior tour, and the winner of the Australian Open of Surfing Pro Junior female competition in 2015, 14 year old Isabella Nicholas is excited to be part of the next generation of surfers who will gain experience competing at the event. She said, “I cannot wait to compete at the event again, I know the crowds will be insane and it’s such a different experience to surf in a major competition in Sydney.”
Owned and operated by IMG, with the support of Destination NSW, the 2016 Australian Open of Surfing will once again be a major highlight on the summer calendar.
IMG Senior Vice President, Director of Action Sports James Leitz said, “We’re thrilled to once again partner with Destination NSW and Manly Council to bring the Australian Open of Surfing to Manly Beach. It’s exciting to see how the event has grown year after year, and we expect 2016 to be the best one yet. This year’s Australian Open of Surfing event will cover the very last days of summer, leaving the season on a high and celebrating all the things that Aussie summers are renowned for on a mass scale at Manly.”
WSL Australasia Tour Manager Will Hayden-Smith said, "World Surf League is thrilled to be confirming men's and women's QS6000 at the Australian Open of Surfing in Manly for the next three years. These events provide opportunities for some of the best surfers in the world to compete and put on a show and earn vital qualifying points. WSL would like to thank Mike Baird and the NSW Government and IMG for their support for our league."
Last year, the top five female surfers in the world along with three-time World Champion and Aussie legend Mick Fanning went head to head on Sydney’s shores.
Out of the water, the world’s best skaters including #1 Pedro Barros - who led a strong Brazilian contingent, Aussie pocket rocket 11 year old Keegan Palmer, Dane Rune Glifberg and Renton Millar ripped up the massive Beach Bowl.
On the music front Aria Award winning Vance Joy were joined by Jagwar Ma and San Cisco on stage in 2015, thrilling audiences at free concerts on the sands of Manly Beach. The 2016 Australian Open of Surfing will once again feature a killer music line-up.
Completing the nine days of non-stop action in 2016 will be a diverse range of onsite activations including art, retail spaces, fitness and gourmet food and beverage, providing fun for all ages from sun up to sun down.
Live event coverage of all the competition will be webcast at www.australianopenofsurfing.com
AUSTRALIAN OPEN OF SURFING
The 2016 Australian Open of Surfing, owned and operated by IMG, will run from 27 February – 6 March. The nine day, one-of-a-kind festival will bring together some of the world’s top athletes in surfing and skateboarding combined with two days of live concerts on the music stage, art/photo installations and interactive sponsor displays – all taking place on iconic Manly Beach, Sydney
All events are free and open to the public. Live webcast can be viewed at www.australianopenofsurfing.com.
ABOUT DESTINATION NSW
Destination NSW is the lead NSW Government agency for tourism and major events sectors. The NSW Government, through Destination NSW, assisted with securing the Australian Open of Surfing for Manly in 2016.
The role of Destination NSW is to market Sydney and NSW as one of the world’s premier tourism and major events destinations; to secure major sporting and cultural events; to work in partnership with Business Events Sydney to win major international conventions and incentive travel reward programs; to develop and deliver initiatives that will drive visitor growth throughout the State; and to achieve the NSW Government’s goal of doubling expenditure within the State’s visitor economy by 2020.
IMG is a global leader in sports, events, media and fashion, operating in more than 25 countries. The company represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages thousands of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is the world’s largest independent producer and distributor of sports media. IMG also specializes in sports training; league development; and marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, the world’s leading entertainment agency, to form WME | IMG.