Surfest 2018: Matt Banting back with a nine-point ride at Merewether

UP AND AWAY: Matt Banting in full flight on Monday at Surfest. Picture: Tom Bennett/WSLSurfest 2014 champion Matt Banting doubted if he would ever be back at the contest after more than a year out of competitive surfing trying to overcome osteitis pubis.

But back he was on Monday, and with a bang.

The former championship tour surfer started in the round of 144 in the men’s Burton Automotive Pro at Merewether with a 9.17 featuring a deep cutback and two powerful snaps. The Port Macquarie natural-footerbacked it up with a 6.53 to easily win his four-man heat.

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The heat was hisfirst in a 6000-point qualifying series contest since taking an enforced break from the sport in December 2016.

“I was doubting that I’d ever be back here doing it,” Banting said.

“I didn’t know if I’d ever get rid of the pain.I thought I might have to carry it for the rest of my life and push through it, but it’s amazing what the body can do, that’s for sure.

“It was good, first heat back in the jersey and a 9.17. I was even hooting to myself in the shorey. It was only one wave, the job wasn’t done yet, but just to start with an excellent score first wave back.

“I was nervous though to back it up and get through, but it was good. It’s good just to be back down here, seeing everyone andtheextended family.”

The 23-year-old took anti-inflammatory drugs for eight months andspent 10 months out of the water trying to shakeosteitis pubis –aninflammation of the pubic bone and surrounding muscle.

“I’m feeling unreal and super fit, all the muscles and different parts of the body are in the right place now, I’m not feeling any niggles, so I’m super stoked.”

Merewether’s Jackson Baker is due surf about 3pm.

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