GIRLS CANT' WAIT FOR SURF SHOWDOWN
By ADRIAN MILLER
SHE might have briefly forgotten it was on, but Pauline Menczer can't wait for the 15th annual ICON All Girls Surf Showdown at Lennox Head this weekend.
The 1993 surfing world champion rates the Showdown as one of her favourite events and even though she got her dates slightly mixed up, is eager to hit the waves.
"I nearly forgot it was on this weekend because I figured the long weekend was a bit further away, but then I was sitting at home on Wednesday and I saw something about this weekend being the long weekend so I'm stoked," she said.
"This is awesome and one of the best events. Even when I was on tour this was one of my favourite contests." The Showdown will feature 171 female surfers competing in divisions ranging from Under-14s and Over-28s to Open Pro and Open Longboard.
And even though Menczer is gunning for her fourth title after victories in 1996, 1998 and 2000, winning isn't the main focus.
"It's a really family-orientated event and I love how it's pushing the younger generation into surfing but also keeping the older generation involved," she said.
"Everyone comes together and I get to see people I grew up with and started surfing with. It's such a social weekend.
"It's a really good event with a really good feel which you don't get at a lot of competitions."
Menczer will again compete in the Open Pro division and although she's confident she can take the title, she won't have it her own way.
Former 2004 ASP Rookie of the Year Laurinna McGrath, Billabong ASP World Junior Champion and 2005 Open Pro winner Nicola Atherton and former pro and 2001 champion Jenny Boggis will return to the surf eager to share in the $2500 bounty from Southern Cross Credit Union.
But it's not just the senior ranks with tantalising contests, with young guns such as Laura Enever, who's just returned from the World Junior Surfing Championships in Portugal, eager to back up her 2005 Under-16s victory.
Local girls Sarah Beardmore, Stephanie Sallis and Jade Fenech will also be out to impress.
Contest director Rachel Bonhote-Mead said competition was expected to be fierce.
"We're expecting a hotly contested event, especially in the Open Pro and Over-21s divisions," she said.
"We have so many girls who are either competing in the pro junior series or on the WQS so it should be pretty even." And it's not just the Pros competing for prizes.
ICON, Gallaz, Gary Fox The Good Guys, Surf Aids and Headlands Beach Resort have donated prizes which will see every division finalist taking more than memories away from the contest.
But Bonhote-Mead said it wasn't just the prizes which enticed the competitors.
"It's all about helping the confidence of the girls," she said.
"We have numerous divisions the girls can compete in, so it's not just the pros or surfers looking to become pros who come to this event.
"It's pretty inspiring for the young girls to compete because they are surfing with some of their idols and people they look up to.
"Having them there watching them surf is pretty cool and it gives them a good incentive to do well."
The contest begins at 7.30am on Saturday at Lennox Head Main Beach, but it can go mobile anywhere between Lennox and Ballina's North Wall.