Surfest organisers are looking at creating more events outside the Hunter region after adding extra junior and pro junior contests to their annual schedule.
A new Cadet Cup featuring under 12, 14 and 16 divisions will be held at Bonny Hills, south of Port Macquarie, on February 10-11 and will signal the start of the Surfest carnival. The traditional Cadet Cup at South Bar Beach, to run on March 2-3, remains.
Surfest has also launched a new pro junior (under-20s) event, to be run at Birubi Beach in Anna Bay on February 24-25. The contest effectively replaces the Let's Surf Lake Mac Pro Junior event at Redhead in the Surfest carnival schedule after it was moved to November, along with its cadet divisions. Organisers of Surfest also run Let's Surf Lake Mac, which has become a carnival in its own right.
Surfing Australia national junior ranking points are up for grabs at the cadet contests, while the under-20 events are part of the World Surf League's Junior Tour.
The Cadet Cup at Bonny Hills will be the first Surfest event held outside of the Hunter region during the carnival's 38 editions.
Surfest chief Warren Smith believed more would be created in the next three years.
"It's a new event we've been discussing for a while with Reflections Holiday Parks, our presented by sponsors for Surfest," Smith said.
"We were hoping to expand outside the region with events and this is the first one.
"We also looked at different types of events to do, and we want to help promote the younger surfers coming through, so that's why we've gone with the under 12s, 14s and 16s.
"We're hoping these events will be launching pads for the boys and girls, who then go into the pro juniors, which we are doing two of now as well.
"We're thankful of our sponsors for their support. Burton Automotive are taking the pro junior to Birubi Beach and that's a WSL-rated event as well.
"We've now got 11 events run by our organisation and we're hoping to grow that over the next three years in conjunction with our partners."
He said the response to the Bonny Hills event had been strong.
"We released the event on Friday and we've already got well over 30 entries," he said.
Smith believed the extra junior competitions would help educate aspiring surfers about the professional side of the sport, which he hoped to bring more into the mainstream and as a first-choice for young athletes.
Surfest will again be headlined by the 5000-point WSL Qualifying Series events at Merewether, on March 11-17. The men's and women's contests are the finale of the Australasian/Oceania QS and will now be the only 5000 events in Australia, making them crucial to surfers chasing spots on the second-tier Challenger Series.