Residents of New South Wales’ second largest city Newcastle are reeling this morning as it was revealed in stunning announcement that Victoria’s Bells Beach has stolen the iconic easter weekend surf contest from its shore.
The Rip Curl Pro, which will kick off its inaugural running at Merewether, just three kilometers east of Newcastle’s town center, in mere weeks has been the pride and joy of the town for hours. Residents were looking forward to watching their waves in the World Surf League broadcast spotlight, sharing their charms with visiting surfers and spending the expected $15m the contest will inject into the local economy.
“Newcastle has a long history when it comes to surfing – some of the greats and champions,” Deputy Premier John Barilaro told the local newspaper. “The opportunity here is to showcase Newcastle to about 10 million viewers globally. And Newcastle is a global city. It was the perfect fit for this.”
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes called the event was “a massive coup for Newcastle.”
That coup, however, was quickly squashed as the contest will move south for 2022 – 2006 as Torquay, home of Bells Beach, inked a just-announced four-year deal with the World Surf League.
Surf Coast Mayor Libby Stapleton said the surf competition will be “an integral part of our identity and economy” and estimates an $8m cash infusion.”
“I think that the World Surf League, Rip Curl and the Victorian Government recognise that this event is really unique and we appreciate their efforts in having helped ensure future events will occur at Bells Beach,” she said.
It is uncertain how Newcastle’s population will cope or if professional surfing’s governing body will move the inaugural Billabong Pipeline Masters to Merewether for the upcoming season.
More as the story develops.