The International Beach Festival has today wrapped up four fantastic days of competition in Cronulla, with veteran surfer Silvana Lima of Brazil crowned the inaugural Sydney International Women’s Pro Champion.
Newcastle’s Philippa Anderson met Lima in the final on Sunday afternoon, after a packed day of surfing in the QS6000 event. After delivering two best scores of 6.17 and 5.14 in the final, Lima was too good for her Australian rival, finishing with a total score of 11.30 to Anderson’s 8.60.
“I can’t believe it, it feels so good,” 32-year-old Lima said. “I’ve just come from Bali and that’s why I am surfing so good. I feel comfortable now and more than 100 per cent, and that’s why I won here.”
The win saw Lima grab 6,000 qualifying points, USD $10,000 and most importantly ensured her place on the 2017 World Tour.
“I feel so happy and ready to go back onto the CT that’s for sure. I’ll be there!”
Runner-up Phillippa Anderson was happy with her result, after struggling for form throughout most of the year.
“A win would have been great,” the Mereweather Beach local said.
“Every athlete, no matter what sport wants to do well and you want to walk away with the win. But I gave it 100 per cent out there and it was God’s plan to get second and I am so happy with that.”
The event’s creator Sally Fitzgibbons was knocked out earlier in the day by Bronte Macaulay in the round of 16, but the huge success of the Festival overarched any disappointment about her results.
“I have never seen so much joy from all of the spectators, the community and there has just been a really nice feel to the whole weekend,” Fitzgibbons said.
“Seeing everyone embrace the concept and getting outdoors and being active and celebrating what it is to be Aussie and showing that off to the world is amazing. We have a lot of internationals in town and are broadcasting to the world. Everyone is writing in and saying that place is beautiful! And that’s what I love most about being an Aussie. It’s been a pleasure to see it take shape.
“The surfing side of things, being in the water is a bonus. It’s tough, you obviously always want to win every heat you go in but Bronte is surfing extremely well and I always knew that one was going to be a tough battle.”
Twenty-two-year-old Macaulay beat Fitzgibbons to move into the quarter-finals and spoke of how grateful she was for the opportunity to compete here.
“Making quarters was my goal coming into the event to improve my points,” said Macaulay who hails from Margaret River.
“Coming up against Sally was as hard a draw as it could be. She is the best in the competition, but I got lucky and got through – I’m stoked.
“We are all so appreciative of what Sally has done this week. The event set up is humungous and she has treated us all so well. We are just all so thankful to be here and what she is doing for women’s surfing is amazing.
As well as the QS6000 final, the final day of the Festival featured the Ironwoman Invitational with a stacked field of Australia’s best athletes, including the reigning Australian Champion, World Champion and multiple title holders.
Big surf, cold water and strong underwater currents made for challenging conditions in the two-phase eliminator style race, and it was 26-year-old unheralded Bonnie Hancock who took the win in her first return to competition in nearly two years.
“A lot of what you can’t see is the water moving beneath the waves, so you have to dive really deep and do a lot of lung capacity work – really tough racing out there,” Hancock said, who was a last minute replacement for injured Jordan Mercer.
“I said earlier that I was going to send her
“I am so grateful to [fellow competitor] Rebecca Creedy for helping to set that up and encouraging me to come in.
Hancock, whose older sister Courtney was also in the race, had not raced in two years after contracting glandular fever and chronic fatigue.
“It’s been a long tough road back and getting towards full fitness now,” the Kurrawa club competitor said.
“Today is good for the confidence I think. It was fantastic to be involved in this event. Amazing for Sally to think of us IronWomen and get us involved. And to have two pairs of sisters in it was really one for the history books.”
The event saw more than 100,000 people come down to North Cronulla beach to not only see first-class women’s surfing, but engage in a huge variety of activities including an ocean swim, mile run, yoga and fitness in the park and much more.
Fitzgibbons has promised to be back next year, bigger and better.
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The International Beach Festival is grateful for the support of partners; Qantas Assure, Jewel Residences Gold Coast, World Surf League, Garnier, Piping Hot, Surfing NSW, Fitness First, Daily Telegraph, Ohana Ocean Athletics, Westfield Miranda, Nova 969, SLSC Sunscreen, Coco Joy and Blue Dinosaur, and our many volunteers.