New surfing event has potential to grow into a circuit
SUNSHINE Coast surfing identity Robbie Sherwell has unveiled plans to give Australia's best up-and-coming board-riders a springboard to the big time.
Sherwell declared yesterday that the Hinano/Sunco Jeep ProAm - a $5400 event to be staged on the Coast this weekend in conjunction with the Northshore Board Riders Club - could develop into something much bigger.
The event will feature some of the Coast's best senior competitors, including Chris Friend, Dale Lovelock, Nathan Hedge and Dimity Stoyle as well as some of its most promising juniors, among them Eli Steele, Nic Jones, Josh Sherwell and Kai Hing.
Sherwell said there was a need for a level between the Queensland Championship Circuit and the World Qualifying Series so emerging surfers could gain experience and much-needed funds, and competitors in the twilight of their careers could continue to make a living.
Sherwell enjoyed a 10-year professional career, including a six-year stint on the world tour.
He said since his competitive days ended in the mid-1990s, opportunities for riders to make a living domestically had dried up.
When he began his career, the Australian Professional Surfing Association tour allowed him to gain experience and earn money, which funded his overseas excursions.
He also competed on the Australian Championship Circuit for several years after he stepped away from the world tour, extending his career.
Sherwell said there was a vacuum when it came to mid-level events in Australia and he hoped to replicate the concept around the country.
"This country has 23 million people and there is more talent here than there is in the US, which has several hundred million," he said.
"We've got so much talent and they're not getting anything - no backing, nothing. And they really deserve a go.
"By far we have the most surfing talent in the world."
Sherwell wants other boardrider clubs around the country to adopt the concept and stage similar events so that a sustainable nationwide series can be created.
He hopes there will be three or four events on the Coast and 20 to 25 events nationally within the next two years.
The Hinano/Sunco Jeep ProAm will be staged between Point Cartwright and Maroochydore, depending on conditions.
Entries close today and are available at www.surfingqueensland.com.
Hinano/Sunco Jeep ProAm
Date: April 27-28
Where: Point Cartwright to Maroochydore, depending on conditions.
Prizemoney: $5400, $2000 winner's purse.