New Novocastrian Sarah Baum is aiming to find her feet again in competitive surfing while helping fellow former South African Philippa Anderson crack the championship tour at the Port Stephens Toyota Pro.
Baul, who has called Newcastle home since late last year, made a winning start at Birubi Beach on Friday as the season-ending 6000-point qualifying series event began. She won her round-two heat with a 10.70 total in one-metre waves. Local hopes Amelie Bourke and Madison Poole lost in round two and Elle Clayton-Brown bowed out in round one.
Anderson, 26, who is 11th on the QS rankings and within reach of a maiden CT spot, starts in round three.
Baum, 11th on the QS in 2011, and Anderson were travelling companions while with Roxy and they have reunited this year as training partners. Both are hoping the connection can help take them to the next level.
“We travelled together for about five years or so when we were younger and became best friends, we pretty much became family,” Baum said. “I fell off the tour for a couple of years and it's so good to move to Newcastle now and she's here.
“If I'm getting down and I don't feel like surfing, she's like 'c'mon, we've got to go surfing', and vice versa, so it's really good to have that backing. And when we are surfing together, we're always pushing each other.”
Anderson, who likely needs at least a quarter-final appearance to make the 2019 CT, said it was good to train with "someone else who is following the same dream”.
“We both got dropped by Roxy the same year,” Anderson said.
“Now she's found her feet and has a couple of sponsors but still needs a bit of help. We're hoping we can both make the final. It would help her out with rankings and money and I'd qualify.”
“So hopefully that’s the end result.
“It's good to have someone else who is following the same dream because you both know what you want.
“It's really nice, in the water, just having someone on your level to just bounce off and being there for each other in the contest. We understand each other.
“Nothing against my other friends but they just don't really know what it's like trying to be a professional and understand the whole aspect.
“It's good to have someone to bounce things off.”
Baum, who spent two years in Illawarra before coming to Newcastle, won the 1000-point Central Coast Pro at the start of the year, which gave her a start at Port Stephens.
“I gave it a break for a couple of years, just with sponsors and stuff, I didn't really have the funds,” she said.
“But after winning the event this year, I was like ‘I really want to get back into competing’, so hopefully I get to do a few contests next year here in Australia and set myself up for the year financially and hopefully some sponsors come along, which would be amazing.
“Just hopefully give it a crack.”