Former world surfing champion Mark Occhilupo will make his return to competitive surfing alongside the likes of Joel Parkinson, Jordy Smith and Taj Burrows as Sydney’s iconic Manly Beach prepares to host the inaugural Australian Open of Surfing presented by Hurley and Billabong from February 11-19, 2012.
The inaugural Australian Open of Surfing will take place in February in Manly, NSW
Image courtesy of Billabong
The free and family-friendly nine-day celebration of youth culture will feature a bowl-skateboard contest made up of local and international athletes to complement the men’s, women’s and junior pro surfing events, and will also incorporate a music line-up to rival any music festival in the country
The unique event is the first of its kind in Australia, the opportunity to be part of history enough to convince 45-year-old Occhilupo out of retirement.
Women’s world No.2 Sally Fitzgibbons, world No.4 Tyler Wright and the majority of the women’s surfing tour will also showcase the best female surfing has to offer, right in the heart of Sydney.
“The event will be an extension of the US Open which features live concerts and skate events on the beach. There will be a lot of exciting things to see and do which creates an amazing atmosphere to compete in,” said Fitzgibbons, the reigning US Open of Surfing champion.
“So to bring back some of that magic for Sydney-siders to enjoy will be amazing and having it so close to the city makes one of Australia’s most popular sports really easy for everyone to enjoy.”
Skateboarding royalty Bucky Lasek and Bob Burnquist will join the likes of super star Curren Caples in the Pro Skate Beach Bowl for their share of $50,000 prize money, while arriving in Australia to join Occhilupo, Parkinson, Adrian Buchan and Josh Kerr in the $155,000 men’s Surfing Pro will be international stars Kolohe Andino, Miguel Pupo and Brett Simpson – with more to be confirmed.
“I surfed in the US Open at Huntington, California last year and I was blown away by the vibe surrounding that event,” World No.2 Joel Parkinson said.
“It’s great to have pro surfing back in Sydney again. I remember as a kid there were all these huge contests down at Narrabeen or Manly, but the Sydney contests kind of dried up just as I got on tour. It’s great to finally have another big contest down there after all this time. I can’t wait.”
The smoke and alcohol-free event is expected to welcome more than 100,000 people to Manly, the location of the very first World Surfing Championships in 1964 and the first Australian beach to legalise day-time swimming in 1904.
Destination NSW, along with major event partners Hurley and Billabong, expect the Australian Open of Surfing to inject more than $6 million into the local community.
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