Surfest chief Warren Smith said the new World Surf League format will only enhance Newcastle's qualifying series contests.
The World Surf League has fast-tracked a switch to a new calendar and qualifying process for 2021 in the wake of COVID-19, which led to the cancellation of this year's contests after the 10,000-point Sydney Surf Pro in Manly in mid-March. Surfest's 5000-point QS events were held a week earlier.
The events were part of a year-long run of intertwining QS and 10,000-point Challenge Series contests which decided who joined the championship tour the following season.
However, from 2021, the QS will run until the end of June, determining who joins the Challenger Series from August to December.
Smith said Surfest would keep its place in the calendar (March 8-14), before the CT event at Snapper Rocks, but it would now be the finale to the Australian QS leg and benefit from moving away from the Manly event.
"There will be no changes to us, as far as being 5000-point events," Smith said. "If anything, the changes enhance the QS 3000-5000 events a lot more, so I'm really happy about that. It separates the Challenger Series to a later part of the year, which I think is beneficial to the surfers and the events themselves.
"It really enhances our event. It gives it a lot more value. We'll be the highest-rated QS event now in Australia."
He said COVID-19 protocols were being developed for surfers and spectators in the hope of holding the festival. The pro junior events will be on February 20-21 but the Team Challenge and Indigenous Classic contests will not be held in 2021.