BY KAYNE STEPHENS
The World Surf League’s 2021 Championship Tour has officially launched in Newcastle.
Local and international champions took to the sands at Merewether to kick off the Tour, with competition for the Newcastle Cup starting tomorrow.
Reigning World Champion, Italo Ferreira was joined by the League’s Asian Pacific General Manager Andrew Stark and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes this morning.
The World Championship Tour makes it’s first Australian stop in Newcastle thanks to Newcastle Council’s partnership with the State Government through Destination New South Wales.
Merewether surfer Ryan Callinan says it’s a different feeling when the world champions are the ones doing the travel.
“As much as I feel at home here, having everyone here makes it feel a lot different,” he said.
“Normally when you go away to events, I find it a lot easier to lock in and set your routine for that event.
“So being at home it’s really different because I’m just waking up every morning and it feels like another day and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s actually here’,” Mr Callinan said.
For those who can’t make it beachside, a big-screen projection of the action will be shown at a special event precinct at the former Newcastle Railway Station.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says the live site precinct will allow locals to enjoy the festival atmosphere brought by the Championship Tour event.
“WSL has had a huge response to its free ticket ballot being run through Ticketek, and it’s looking like each surfing day will be at capacity at the Merewether Beach event precinct,” Lord Mayor Nelmes said.
“City of Newcastle’s live site will be the place to catch the action for anyone who missed out on tickets or simply looking for a fun, family-friendly atmosphere to watch the surfing while having a drink and a bite to eat.”
The Tour starts with the Newcastle Cup on Thursday, and will run in Newcastle until 11 April.