The Surfest champions have been crowned - Airport_News

The Surfest 2016 finals were held in front of record crowds in some of the best conditions of the event at Merewether Beach this year.


Newcastle’s only annual international sporting event, Surfest brings more than 790 surfers to Newcastle from around Australia and the world.

Newcastle Airport is proud to have supported Surfest for more than a decade, facilitating the influx of surfers, fans, supporters, and bringing an economic benefit of up to $2 million each year to our region.

This year, we sent Instagram sensation @SjanaElise along to document the Surfest action on our behalf. Sjana is a local girl who uses Newcastle Airport to travel the world.



A photo posted by Newcastle Airport (@ntlairport) on

Many of the champion surfers also travel through Newcastle Airport to get to Surfest and surfing events at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast.

The 2016 champions are World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour competitors Matt Wilkinson and Sally Fitzgibbons.

Fitzgibbons’ win was no mean feat, surfing her way through heats full of world-class competitors, Fitzgibbons eventually met six-time World Champion, Stephanie Gilmore, in the 35 minute final.

Fitzgibbons managed final score of 14.73 with a display of smooth and powerful rail surfing. Gilmore was left chasing a single wave score of 8.56 but she which she was never able to achieve.

“This is so good – such a great start the year,” Fitzgibbons said. “Having a win early in the year is awesome for confidence and momentum going into the CT season. The best thing has been competing at this event. Competing in these regional areas is so great with all the support and energy shown from the local community there’s just nothing better.

“I’ve been coming to Newcastle for years now and it really does feel like a home away from home I’ve had a blast all week as well as preparing for Snapper (the next competition in the WSL Tour).”

Men’s champion, Matt Wilkinson, faced Italian sensation Leonardo Fioravanti in the final. Wilkinson surfed the right hand walls with massive vertical backhand re-entries to post two excellent range scores, an 8.83 and a 9.00 to take his first victory in longer than he can remember.


@mattwilko8 #maitlandandportstephenstoyota #surfest2016 by @throwingbucketsmagazine

A photo posted by Surfest Newcastle (@surfestnewcastle) on


“I’m so stoked, I didn’t really realise how long it had been since I had won something,” Wilkinson said. “I’ve had a few seconds and thirds but it definitely feels good to be on top. Newcastle is so great I’ve been coming up here for years and have a good group of friends here do I always feel comfortable here.”

Hero imagery by Jonathan Carroll, Newcastle Herald.


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