3 -6 November, 2016
Cronulla Beach, Sydney
The Qantas Assure International Beach Festival is a four-day festival in Cronulla which will showcase Australia’s iconic beach lifestyle. The Festival, which is the brainchild of pro surfer Sally Fitzgibbons will feature a wide range of sport, health, lifestyle and community events highlighted by the Sydney International Women’s Pro surfing contest.
“The vision behind the event is that I wanted to celebrate everything that I love about Australian beach culture,” Fitzgibbons said.
“My passion is for health and fitness – a lot broader than just surf. These are the things that make me tick – the things that I am passionate about.
“I thought, wow, imagine if I could encompass everything that I love about Australian culture in one big event. I settled on Cronulla being the spot. All those years of runs, triathlons, ironman and ironwoman down at Cronulla really inspired me. I wanted to bring the next generation of women’s surfing there, to such a beautiful place.”
The event will feature the Sydney International Women’s Pro, a QS6000 surf event and the biggest all-female surf event this year; an U16 Junior Challenge; Ironwoman Invitational, men’s Boardrider Battle of the Bridge; mile run; ocean swims; Pro assist and a festival village. More information on all events follows:
Sydney International Women’s Pro
Thursday 3 – Sunday 6 November
The QS6000 Sydney International Women’s Pro is the marquee event in the International Beach Festival. The event will see 96 talented young women chasing the 6000 qualifying series points on offer, and as it is the last event of the year to grab points for next year’s world tour, everyone will be bringing their A-game. And for the women already on the world stage, the event also acts as one of the last chances to secure their positions for 2017.
Fourteen competitors competed on the 2016 Championships Tour, and headlining the event alongside Sally herself, will be Hawaiin surfer Coco Ho, California’s Sage Erickson, North Narrabeen’s Laura Enever and Nikki Van Dijk from Victoria’s Phillip Island.
“I personally love this time of year in the surf world,” Fitzgibbons said. “For me the excitement lies on who will take the spots and the battle for those next aspiring athletes to get their world tour dream. It all comes down to this last event. And to me, as a sports fan to be hosting it – I have so much energy and anticipation, I can’t wait. The trials and tribulations of sport are amazing.”
Despite the star power of Erickson and Ho and the determination of the young surfers on the cusp of the tour, Fitzgibbons will be putting out her best form.
“I am definitely going to step up on the day,” she said. “I’m hungrier than ever. Results this year have been hard to come by, but I know I am in there. The girls around me elevate my performance and I’m excited to match up with those girls right on the cusp.”
Ironwoman Invitational presented by Ohana Ocean Athletics
Sunday 6 November
The Ironwoman Invitational will see 14 of Australia’s best athletes go head to head in an epic battle of skill, fitness and endurance.
The three-phase eliminator format will see the 14 elite athletes line up on Cronulla beach at 10.30am on Sunday 6 November. They will contest a swim, board, ski and run. Four will be eliminated after the first round – the remaining 10 will have a five minute break and then do it all again. Repeat for the third round, with the final six athletes going at it one more time. The winner will take the glory and $5000 prize money.
The Northcliffe trio of Courtney Hancock, Rebecca Creedy and Harriet Brown are at the top of their game and will all be aiming for a finals berth. They’ll face tough competition from the Nurthen sisters, Carla Papac and young-gun Naomi Scott.
Saturday 5 November
Dual World Champion Tom Carroll will take on Cronulla’s prodigal son Gary Green in a surf battle like no other, in the Sydney International Boardriders Challenge. The “Battle of the Bridge” will see surfers from affiliated Boardrider Clubs from Sydney’s Northern Beaches taking on rivals from the Southern Beaches in a 60 minute battle.
U16 Junior Challenge
Friday 4 – Sunday 6 November
The Sydney International U16 Junior Women’s Challenge forms part of the Qantas Assure International Beach Festival. The first of the heats will begin on Friday 4 November, continue on Saturday, with the final to be held on Sunday 6 November.
The event is designed to promote the next generation of female surfers and put them in the spotlight alongside the Sydney International Women’s Pro. The event will consist of 24 female surfers under 16 years of age (as at 31 December 2016), eager to make their mark on the competitive surfing scene.
“I am passionate about seeing the next generation of women in surf succeed,” Fitzgibbons said. “This event will give them the voice and the platform to perform. I want them to really feel like they have ownership of the event.”
Competition will be strong with many great juniors coming and hungry for the win. Look out for Sabre Norris, Zahli Kelly and Bella Grainger.
Sydney International Pro Assist presented by Piping Hot
Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 November
All great Aussie surf stars started in the shore breaks of their local beach, and the Sydney International Pro Assist presented by Piping Hot is ushering in Sydney’s next generation.
The International Beach Festival is making sure the next crop of female talent are chasing Olympic gold and world titles with the perfect introduction – by pairing the best with the next for a surf experience like no other.
Soft surfboards will line the shores of Cronulla Beach and 30 boys and girls aged 5 to 8, will pair up with Pros for the ultimate surf session.
“I can’t wait, the Pro Assist is one of my favourite parts of the whole event,” Fitzgibbons said.
“Thinking back to when I was that age, if I had Layne come to assist me in the surf, I would have lost it! I was a frothing little grom and would have been that excited at the opportunity. It is a memory that I would have really hung on to. When I came up with the concept, everyone jumped on board and supported the idea. Whether they go on with surfing or not it doesn’t matter, but the idea that these young girls can be exposed to what it is like to be around world title surfers, is just so exciting.”
Sydney Shire Mile Run
Saturday 5 November
The Sydney Shire Mile Run will be held in Cronulla from 7am on Saturday 5 November and is set to be Sydney’s most beautiful street run. It will give participants a spectacular view of Cronulla as they run North along Mitchell Road passing Elouera SLSC, looping at Wanda SLSC and finishing under the arch on Prince Street. Featuring in the run will be a big group of students from Cronulla Public School who have a before-school running club, Olympic middle distance runner and Shire local Eloise Wellings and even ‘Reefy’ the Cronulla Sharks Mascot.
Sydney Shire Ocean Swim Presented by the Daily Telegraph
Saturday 5 November
The Sydney Shire Ocean Swim presented by The Daily Telegraph will be held in Cronulla from 10am on Saturday, November 5, 2016. The event will comprise of a 1km & 2km ocean swim, both starting and finishing in front of the Elouera Surf Club. Water Polo Olympians and Cronulla locals Keesja Gofers, Nicola Zagame and Lea Yanitsas will put their swimming skills to test in the ocean races.
Thursday 3 – Sunday 6 November
The Festival Village will be a hub of activity over the four days of the event. Located in Dunningham Park there is something for everyone from sun-up to sun-down. In the morning, there is a work-out zone with yoga and Train Like Sally sessions. During the day, people can make the most of market stalls, a retail experience and food stalls while watching the QS6000 Surf action on the big screen. When the sun goes down, visitors can enjoy a quiet drink at the bar and listen to the live music programmed by Australian Music Week. And at the end of the day, the whole family can enjoy the outdoor Cinema by the Sea from 7.30pm.
See you there!