Pictured: Kelly Slater (USA), eight-time ASP World Champion and current ratings leader on the 2008 ASP World Tour, slipping into an El Gringo barrel at last year’s Rip Curl Pro Search event.
For the fourth season in a row, the Rip Curl Pro Search event will throw a curveball at the world’s best surfers, offering the ASP Top 45 a never-before-competed-at Dream Tour venue.
Stop No. 6 of 11 on the 2008 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search will once again pit the best surfers on the planet at a location that has never before hosted an ASP event. Previous Rip Curl Pro Search venues have included St. Leu on Reunion Island (2005), “La Jolla” in mainland Mexico (2006) and El Gringo in Chile’s port town of Arica (2007), but 2008’s venue has been kept secret from the public at large.
Kelly Slater (USA), eight-time ASP World Champion and current ratings leader on the ASP World Tour, has been in staggering form this season, collecting four victories in five events (Gold Coast, Bells Beach, Tavarua and Jeffreys Bay), and will be the man to beat at the Rip Curl Pro Seach.
“I’m really relaxed,” Slater said. “My life is really good personally and professionally. There’s nothing side-tracking me and nothing in the way. I’ve got to take the same approach that I took at the start of the year, which is not being preoccupied, and just focus on what’s happening right now and how do I maximize that.”
The brilliant natural-footer has yet to be defeated by any of his fellow ASP Top 45 members in 2008, his only loss being at the hands of wildcard Manoa Drollet (PYF) at the Billabong Pro Teahupoo.
“It’s good for me because it puts all of the pressure on other peoples’ shoulders,” Slater said. “Winning in South Africa has put an immense amount of pressure on those guys, but No. 9 is still a long ways off.”
Mick Fanning (AUS), reigning ASP World Champion, is sitting No. 4 on this season’s ASP World Tour ratings following his runner-up finish at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, but knows he has to make up some ground at the Rip Curl Pro Search if he is to have any chance at defending his ASP World Title.
“I will be going to the Rip Curl Search giving it my all,” Fanning said. “I think if Kelly wins another event, the race for the ASP World Title will be pretty much over. Whoever is going to give him a run will have to start winning events.”
Andy Irons (HAW), current ASP World No. 8 and two-time past champion of the Rip Curl Pro Search event (2006, 2007), has proven time and again that he is the form surfer on tour in unfamilar conditions and will look to make it a three-peat at this season’s venue.
“It’s an even playing field because most people haven’t surfed those spots before,” Irons said. “In the beginning of the year, there are always rumors of where the Search event will be, so it’s always fun to finally get the real scoop on the venue, and the next step, if I hadn’t been there in the past, (like Chile) is talking to people who have been there before to mentally prepare. When the Rip Curl Pro Search events are happing there is an exciting, competitive, nervous feeling in the air. You can see it in all of the competitors.”
Bede Durbidge (AUS), current No. 3 on the ASP World Tour, is another who embraces the changing venue of the Rip Curl Pro Search and is excited to get the 2008 event underway.
“I think it’s awesome how Rip Curl change the location of there Search event each year,” Durbidge said. “I get so excited to hear where it’s going to be and I’m sure all the other surfers do too. It’s the only event on tour that changes every year and that’s what all surfers want to do is surf new locations around the world. So we’re really lucky to have the Search event on the calendar each year.”
The waiting period for the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Seach begins on July 30, 2008 and extends through to August 10, 2008.