CABARITA BEACH local Dane Pullinger, 16, will dual it out at the birthplace of Australian surfing against 36 of the nation’s top up and coming groms, when he competes in the Australian Open of Surfing (AOS) Sydney Grom Challenge at Manly beach on February 25-26.
The AOS Sydney Grom Challenge is part of the 2017 Australian Open of Surfing, which is Australia’s biggest lifestyle and action sports festival, welcoming 300 of the world’s top athletes across surf, BMX and sport – including world surfing champion Tyler Wright and Aussie surfing superstar Julian Wilson.
Dane will be in the presence of sporting greats and inspirations, and may represent Australia’s next generation of Olympic gold medal hopes, with surfing set to debut as Olympic sport at Tokyo 2020.
Joining them will be six of the world’s top 10-ranked WSL female surfers including local favourites Sally Fitzgibbons and Laura Enever, and four of the world’s top 20-ranked WSL male surfers including Josh Kerr, Jack Freestone and Jadson André.
Out of the water, some of the biggest names in park terrain skateboarding and BMX are confirmed for the first men’s global qualifier stop of the 2017 Vans Park Series, held in conjunction with the inaugural VPS Oceania Continental Championships for men and women, and the debut of the Vans BMX Pro Cup series.
All three events will take place on a custom-designed, built-to-spec concrete course on location at Manly Beach.
With both surfing and skateboarding set to debut at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and BMX’s future potential to evolve as an Olympic discipline, the 2017 AOS will set the global stage for promising gold medal talent as the world’s best surfers, skateboarders and BMX riders compete at Sydney’s iconic Manly Beach.
Kicking off on February 27, the Girls Make Your Move Women’s Pro will see four out of Australia’s top 5-ranked female surfers battle it out against some of the biggest forces in women’s surfing.
“The Girls Make Your Move campaign is proud to be supporting an event that has such strong female role models. The campaign supports girls getting active anywhere anyhow and the athletes in this Australian Open Surfing event really know how to make their move,” said Girls Make Your Move.
World #1 and 2017 AOS ambassador Tyler Wright headlines a stellar women’s division with representatives from Australia, USA, Hawaii, Brazil, France and multiple other surfing powerhouses.
Joining Wright is Tatiana Weston-Webb (2016 WCT 4), Joanne Defay (2016 WCT 5), Malia Manuel (2016 WCT 7), Sally Fitzgibbons (2016 WCT 8), Sage Erickson (2016 WCT 9) and Laura Enever (2016 WCT 10), who is the official Girls Make Your Move ambassador for the 2017 women’s competition.
2016 AOS champion Nikki Van Dijk (2016 WCT 11) also returns to defend her title, along with Coco Ho (2016 WCT 13), Keely Andrew (2016 WCT 14), Bronte Macaulay (2016 WCT 17) and Pauline Ado (2016 WCT 17).
Aussie young gun and 2016 junior world champion Isabella Nichols joins the big league in the women’s division, as does Hawaiian superstar and crowd favorite Alana Blanchard, who returns to QS competition for the first time since June 2016
In the men’s division of the AOS WSL QS6,000 sanctioned event, Aussie surf hero Julian Wilson (2016 WCT 8) lines-up against fellow top 20-ranked countrymen Josh Kerr (2016 WCT 13) and Stu Kennedy (2016 WCT 19), alongside a strong contingent of elite and emerging international surf stars including Kanoa Igarashi (2016 WCT 20) Jadson Andre (2016 WCT 26), Leonardo Fioravanti (2016 WCT 36) and Joan Duru (2016 WCT 20).
Also in the mix will be Aussie comeback king Jack Freestone (2016 WCT 36), who requalified for the CT tour late last year following a knee injury that sidelined him for much of 2016, and defending AOS men’s champion Dion Atkinson.
Several CT rookies are also in contention for the 2017 men’s title, with Sydney’s Connor O’Leary (2016 QS 1) and 2016 world junior champion Ethan Ewing (2016 QS 2) stacking up against Portugal’s Frederico Morais (2016 WCT 44) and Brazil’s Ian Gouveia (2016 QS 9).