What: Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, ASP Men’s WCT Event #1
Where: Coolangatta, Qld Australia
When: 23 February – 5 March 2008
With clean swell in the one-metre range, and the start of the 2008 ASP World Tour and ASP Women’s World Tour seasons just days away, the air is electric at Snapper Rocks on Australia’s Gold Coast in anticipation of the upcoming Quiksilver Pro contest.
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by LG begins its waiting period this Saturday, February 23, 2008, and will be the first stop of 2008 for the ASP Top 45 to flex their fangs.
Reigning ASP World Champion and defending Quiksilver Pro Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), who was officially recognized at the ASP World Champion’s Crowning this week, has been enjoying the off season, but looks forward to once again donning the singlet and battling it out with the best in the world.
“I thought that I would be feeling the pressure, but I’m actually feeling really relaxed, happy to be here and looking forward to competing,” Fanning said. “It’s going to be an exciting year with guys like Dane (Reynolds) and Jordy (Smith) and the other rookies like Jay Thompson and Dan Ross on tour. Each year the level of surfing just gets better and better, so I’m really excited. It’s guys like these who help push the level of surfing and get people excited.”
Taj Burrow (AUS), current World No. 2, is coming off one of his best seasons to date and shows no signs of slowing down, even enlisting the aid of a trainer to accompany him on the Dream Tour this season.
“The past few years on tour I have had a trainer or a coach with me who has been cracking the whip and making sure I do all the right things and eat well,” Burrow said. “It is pretty draining to commit to the whole year and have all the discipline in the world to try and do all the right things and dedicate everything to winning the heats, it’s a big year but I’m all for it.”
No stranger to futuristic surfing himself, aerial maestro Burrow is excited to continue his progression of the sport alongside hot new rookies Dane Reynolds (USA) and Jordy Smith (ZAF).
“The newcomers like Dane and Jordy, and of course Julian (Wilson) as a wildcard, push us and keep us on our toes,” Burrow said. “There are no easy heats anymore; you have to put everything into a heat to beat guys like these. It’s going to be tough, but it makes everyone rise to the occasion and surf better, so that’s going to be awesome for the spectators.”
Reynolds, who has competed in several ASP World Tour events already as a wildcard and is heralded around the world for his freesurfing abilities, enters into his official rookie season on the ASP World Tour looking to progress his own surfing by learning from the best in the world.
“I realize that I have got a lot to learn, I’m not here to try and take over the world,” Reynolds said. “I’m just here to try and enjoy it and take what I can from this year. I’m not setting any goals for myself, usually setting goals and focusing makes me nervous and then I usually never reach them. So I’m just going to relax and enjoy this year.”
The Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by LG, running in conjunction with the Quiksilver Pro, will host the ASP Top 17 women as their first stop on the Dream Tour, and this season’s lineup of talent is eager to get things underway.
Reigning ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) has undergone a major lifestyle change since becoming the first rookie in ASP History to claim the ASP World Title, yet looks forward to starting the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour season at home on the Gold Coast.
“Life has become fairly busy over the recent months, but I’m feeling really good about what I have achieved so far and hopefully in the coming years I’m able to enjoy myself and enjoy my surfing and winning world titles,” Gilmore said.
At only 20 years of age, many are touting Gilmore as the successor to Australian surfing legend and seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS), but the young natural-footer remains focused on the year ahead and her inaugural title defense.
“I think by winning one world title and experiencing the emotion and physical stress that goes into it, my respect for Layne has grown out of sight,” Gilmore said. “I’m just going to take it one at a time, but to win seven that would be the ultimate. Eight. nine, 10 world titles, as many as I can, I’m just going to keep going until I’m getting over it and I want to do something else that keeps me feeling fresh.”
Beachley will be back to challenge Gilmore in 2008, and the legendary natural-footer will be looking to once-again to stamp her mark onto the ASP record books with another campaign for the ASP Women’s World Title.
“I think I’m going to revert back to the tactics of the eighties and start waxing her board with soap, and messing with her fins, and detaching her leash,” Beachley said. “I’m really excited about being apart of women’s surfing right now, but quite honestly I think Kelly Slater and myself could take a lot of credit and responsibility for what this new generation are doing.”
The Kommunity Project Trials and the Roxy Pro Trials will be ran today deciding who will receive the remaining wildcard slot in the Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro respectively.