For the first time, siblings Cooper and Sophia Chapman were set to compete together in next year’s Australian Open of Surfing at Manly. But their dreams were crushed when the event was cancelled suddenly in October.
“I was a bit bummed for Sophia because I knew she had the wildcard into it and it was going to be her first big event locally,” Cooper Chapman said.
“I know how much it’s meant to me the last couple of years getting to surf in front of my family and friends, and she got to watch me so I was really excited to watch her.”
In September, the Manly Daily revealed that the Australian Open of Surfing would not go ahead in 2018, after Destination NSW withdrew State Government funding for the annual event.
It is understood that funding was cut due to concerns the past event did not meet performance targets. But a grassroots campaign over the past two months has again secured funding and sponsorship, and the creation of a new event, known as the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro.
Liberal MP for Manly, James Griffin, said the local surfing community really pushed to retain the event and he described negotiations to convince Destination NSW to reinstate funding as “robust”.
“We as a community mounted a really smart campaign that brought along the grassroots of surfing … through to some of the biggest names in surfing, including Lane Beachley,” Mr Griffin said.
“Manly has a really proud history of surfing and we want it to stay in Manly.”
“It will really be a grassroots-based, local-business-supported event that will look after itself and be sustainable into the future which I think was part of the challenge of the previous one.”
It is anticipated the Sydney Pro will inject up to $800,000 into the local Manly economy through tourism and spending.
The 2018 Sydney Pro will include a men and women’s World Surf League (WSL) qualifying competition, as well as a WSL-sanctioned pro junior competition.
Former World Champion surfer, Layne Beachley, said retaining the event would help young local talent, such as Sophia and Cooper Chapman, to thrive.
“Surfing on the northern beaches provides us with an opportunity to surf in the most beautiful place in the world, in some of the most challenging conditions the world has to offer, and with some of the most disciplined, determined and tenacious talent in the world, so that is a recipe for success,” she said.
The Vissla Sydney Surf Pro will run from February 24 to March 4, at Manly Beach.