All eyes are on Port Stephens this weekend as the rock stars of Australian surf lifesaving arrive in droves for Round 3 of the popular Summer of Surf (SOS) competition at Fingal Bay.
Athletes will compete for a prize pool worth $250,000 as they seek to accumulate points and earn a spot in the Summer of Surf Grand Final.
The event will see 680 competitors and officials descend on the region, whilst over 1000 spectators will also visit Fingal Bay and surrounds over the weekend.
Broadcast globally on Fox Sports from six iconic Australian locations including Fingal Bay, North Wollongong and Surfers Paradise, SOS invites the world’s top surf lifesaving talent to battle it out in the ultimate summer sport series.
Participants compete in a range of endurance challenges spanning multiple disciplines, including Nutri-Grain Ironman and Ironwoman, Surf Ski, First National Real Estate Board, Surf Swim, and the crowd-pleasing team event, Aussie Bodies Taplin Relay.
This weekend’s event marks the official halfway point for the six-stop series and the pristine Fingal Bay location has proven a major drawcard, with all current Top 10 Nutri-Grain Ironmen and Ironwomen confirmed to race at the weekend.
Former Ironman champion and current SOS series commentator Ty Dowker said he was excited to return to his hometown to showcase the region to visiting athletes.
“I was lucky to grow up and do Nippers in the stunning Port Stephens region; undoubtedly one of Australia’s great natural wonders and best-kept secrets,” Dowker said.
“Helping bring the SOS stars to the region is a real pleasure; I’m sure it will have a lasting impact on the current crop of Nippers in the area as well as being an amazing spectacle for spectators.”
SOS co-founder Trent Goulding said it was a privilege to add Fingal Bay to the tour in the series’ third year.
“A really important element of SOS for us is ensuring our athletes, who train so hard all winter at home, really enjoy being on tour.
“Port Stephens is a special place with a tremendous amount of things to do beyond the race finish line, so we’re excited to include Fingal Bay in the series and of course can’t wait to see competition heat up as we reach the halfway point of the series.”
Competitors to watch this weekend include 23-year-old Burleigh Ironman Tanyn Lyndon, who is currently leading the Ironman series despite a career-halting concussion earlier this year; Rio Olympic bronze medallist Lachlan Tame; 25-year-old World Ironwoman Champion Harriet Brown; and local rising stars Daniel Collins and Isak Costello, who are both tipped to maximise the home advantage.
Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie said the series was an ideal way to showcase Port Stephens to the rest of the world.
“It’s an amazing example of a successful community and council partnership and is a tremendous tribute to the many volunteers from the Fingal SLSC and other local surf clubs who will ensure this event is a great success.”
Leading up the event, a special education program will run across the LGA and include primary schools from Bobs Farm, Karuah, Grahamstown, Shoal Bay, Anna Bay and Nelson Bay.
Students will hear from World Ironman champion Max Beattie, World Ironwoman Jordan Mercer and Summer of Surf Board series winner Zachary Orchard and enjoy an interactive presentation covering the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and surf awareness.
Round 3 of the 2016 Summer of Surf takes to Fingal Bay 26-27 November 2016, with subsequent rounds in Torquay (10 December 2016), North Wollongong (6-8 January 2017) and Surfers Paradise (3-5 February 2017).
For more information, visit summerofsurf.tv