Lennox looks good to host 13th Showdown

By Sports Editor IANMONAGHAN

ANXIOUS eyes scanned the surf at Lennox Head yesterday, with 180 girls awaiting the results.

Organisers of the 13th annual ICON Australia All Girls Surf Showdown are hopeful the three-day event, which begins tomorrow morning, can be held at Main Beach, Lennox Head.

The spiritual home of the Showdown since its inception, the outside and inside banks in front of the Lennox Point Hotel supply the ideal location for such a big event ... close to the Lennox business centre, home of many of the showdown's sponsors, and close to accommodation for the hundreds who flock to Ballina Shire for the biggest all-female surfing event in the nation.

A low pressure system down south will hopefully send swells wrapping around Lennox Point and on to Main Beach to further add to the action come the first heats tomorrow and especially for the finals on Monday.

The Showdown features the maximum number of 180 surfers, from the youngsters in the 14 years and under bracket to those contesting the Open Pro division, a category which has in the past propelled the likes of Pauline Menczer, Trudy Todd, Laurina McGrath, Chelsea Georgeson, Jenny Boggis and reigning champ Stephanie Gilmore onto the world stage.

This year, expect the main hopes in the Open Pro to include Boggis (Lennox Head), Nicola Atherton and Renee Hyman (Gold Coast), Carly Smith (Byron), Karlee Mackie (Ballina) and Sandra English (Budgewoi). There'll also be overseas interest in the results of Kiwis Hester Sutherland and Mischa Davis.

Vicki Bellato first year of co-ordinator.

Also watch out for Sally Fitzgibbons, from Geroa, in the 16 years and Open Pro. She won the 14 years division in 2003 and has performed well on the Billabong Pro Junior tour this year.

Laura Enever (Narrabeen) is back to defend her 14 years title.

The grace of longboard surfing is included and this year there's an all-star lineup, including Amy Clarke (Evans Head), Jodie Barsby (Crescent Head), Angela King (Byron Bay), national title-holder Kirsty Webster (Banora Point), Sally Paxton (Gold Coast) and Lisa Nicholson (Gold Coast).

The Showdown long weekend forecast is good, judging by yesterday's conditions ... a one-metre swell and clear skies.

Co-ordinator Vicki Bellato is hoping the next three days will make a mockery of 13 as an unlucky number for an event which has captured participation from all corners of the nation and overseas.

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