Port Stephens locked in to qualifying series schedule

BIG MOVE: Championship Tour star Ryan Callinan rips in to his home break of Merewether during the Surfest 2020 men's final won by Julian Wilson. Picture: Tom Bennett/WSL

BIG MOVE: Championship Tour star Ryan Callinan rips in to his home break of Merewether during the Surfest 2020 men's final won by Julian Wilson. Picture: Tom Bennett/WSL

Port Stephens will once again play a role in the World Surf League's Australasian qualifying series with nation's calendar of professional surf events now locked in for 2022.

The Port Stephens Pro, a 1000 point event in the qualifying series, is due to return to Birubi Beach between February 27 and March 1.

The Port Pro will precede Surfest, which was last week confirmed as the final leg in the seven event qualifying series.

Athletes will look to top the QS events, scheduled between February 10 and April 3, in order to qualify for the challenger series.

The 5000-point men's and women's City of Newcastle Pro contests, the major Surfest events that were not held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are due to return to Merewether Beach in the later timeslot of March 28-April 3.

The 2020 carnival finished on March 8.

A date has also been set for the Burton Automotive Surfest 2022 Wildcard trials, which are due to be held at Birubi Beach on February 26 - during the Port Pro. Entries into the trials are now open.

Winners of the open men and women sections of the trials earn a spot into Surfest's QS5000 Pros.

The trial winners of the under-14 boys and under-16 boys and girls events receive free entry and the number one seed into Surfest's Sanbah Cadet Cup.

Surfest chief Warren Smith said the new date for the carnival's main events in 2022 "couldn't get any better".

The Merewether contests will be the last on the regional QS circuit, making it the grand final for surfers trying to finish among the top 10 men and top six women on the rankings and progress to the next level of qualifying, the Challenger Series.

That tour, which offers the top 12 men and leading six women a spot in the Championship Tour, starts on the Gold Coast in early May.

Smith said Surfest could have opted for an earlier slot but they pushed to host the finale.

"We're very happy with the spot we're in," Smith said.

"I think from the discussions early on, WSL are paying respect to the event and we're really happy with that.

"We couldn't get a better date for a QS5000 and it's a great Australian leg, so I think it's going to be a pretty good tour for Australasian surfers. I'm really excited."

Smith also hoped for top surfing conditions in the later window.

"There will be more offshore wind and not so many of the nor-easters earlier in the day," he said.

"And you've got a predominantly, and decent, south swell coming through. We're happy with that."

The next event in the Port's surfing calendar is King of the Box. Back for its 10th year, the Box Beach surf event is due to return on December 11 and 12.

Entries are now open to men, women, legends, under-18 girls and under-14 boys and girls.