It?s hard to believe that this is the first year of the Australian Open of Surfing.
Held at Manly Beach, the place where that is widely known to be the birthplace of Australian Surfing with the first World Surfing Championship held in 1964.
The event is an extension of the annual US Open of Surf held at Huntington Beach and is the country?s biggest-ever surf, skate and music event.
The Australian Open of Surfing is a 6-star men?s and women?s ASP-sanctioned surf contest consisting of 144 seeded male surfers, including 15 of the world?s elite ASP World Tour rated surfers. There are also some of the world?s best female surfers including our very own Sally Fitzgibbons and Felicity Palmateer
Manly was chosen as the place for the event, for the reliability of its waves, but mostly because of its location.
A beautiful Sydney beach, its wide expanse offering enough room for unpredictable, wide breaking waves; the VIP tent; a huge skating bowl; and stage for the evening?s concerts.
Cafes, bars, and retail, including many surfing stores, line the promenade and the famous Manly Corso. On the opposite side to the beach sits Manly Wharf where ferries can take you over to the heart of Sydney Harbour in 30 minutes.
It is a striking location and a perfect fit.
The beaches are filled with teenagers laughing in groups, young grommets with stars in their eyes as they chase their idols around the beach, and beautiful women in bikinis batting their eyelids the half-naked perfectly sculptured bodies of famous surfers walked freely amongst them in the sand.
I must say my eyelids battered a little.
I love surfing events as they are free to the public. It?s a day to kick back on the sand, watch some talented manoeuvres as the surfers effortlessly work to overpower the waves in spins, ariels and turns.
It?s relaxed and chilled and there is plenty to see and do. If you want a break from the surfing, then wander amongst the food stalls, check out the skating, make new friends, or do a little bit of shopping.
After a surfing lesson the previous day, our little group of travel bloggers (Gary from Everything Everywhere, Meghan from Blogger at Large, And Abigail from Inside Travel Lab) felt we really spoke the lingo now and even considered entering the competition ourselves. Well, at least we thought Abigail should have as she carved up the waves.
We had the opportunity to sit and chat to some of the surfers as they patiently explained to us the ins and outs of competitions, the scoring of waves, the life of a surfer and just what it took to live your life doing what you love.
The Australian Open of Surfing concludes this Sunday with the big finals, more skating and fun. Saturday night sees headliners Living End, one of Australia?s best rock bands take to the stage.
I will be at the finals on Sunday cheering on Mitch Crews, who is currently holding the second highest score of the competition. AT 21, he is now the seasoned surfer after touring the world surfing since the age of 14. His goal of making the world tour is getting closer with each new wave.
We had a chance to chat with him on a comfy couch (keep an eye out for upcoming interview post). He?s cool and I am sure the long lines of ladies that I saw on the sand, were really waiting for just a glimpse of him.
This weekend Manly will have it all: glorious sunshine, glamour, music, surf, sea, half pipes and fun.
I really think Destination NSW chose well. There?s probably no better place to show case this beautiful city of ours and to have some fun.
I?m looking forward to this becoming an annual event.
Will I see you there this weekend?