Retired world surfing stalwart and Billabong team rider Luke Egan (Australia) has accepted a wildcard invitation to defend his title (won at the last event in 2004) at the coveted Billabong Pro Mundaka in Euskadi, Spain starting October 3rd.
The 37-year-old called it quits at the end of 2005 to take up a marketing position with long time sponsor Billabong, but will temporarily step back into the scene where he spent 20-years battling it out against the world’s best surfers.
The Billabong Pro Mundaka returned to the professional surfing calendar this year after it was cancelled in 2005 following a degradation of the famous sand bar due to dredging, Egan remains the events defending champion, having won in 2004.
The powerful goofy footer who ended his stellar career ranked 17th in the world said a year away from tour life has taken it’s toll but is adamant his skills on the board are as sharp as ever.
“I’ve put on a bit of weight over the last nine months thanks to some good Gold Coast living but have been surfing close to everyday so I’m surf fit,” he said. “I’m just trying to do some exercise so I can last a few heats in a day, if you make the last day of competition this is absolutely crucial. If the waves are good I think I can still push the worlds best, if you have a close look I’ve only been off the tour 9 months.”
Egan will step into the third last event of the year amidst a tense race to the world title between seven times world champion Kelly Slater (Florida), Australian superstar Taj Burrow (Yallingup) and three times world champion Andy Irons (Kauai).
While Slater remains in a strong position to achieve an unprecedented eighth world title, 500 points clear of Burrow, Egan rates the lightening fast Aussie as a serious threat to unseat the Floridian from top spot.
“I’ve been impressed with Taj, he seems to look like this is his year,” he said. “Taj or Andy are the only guys I think look like they want it.”
Joining Egan as Wildcards for the 2006 Billabong Pro Mundaka will be Tahitian World Qualifying Series (WQS) surfer Hira Terinatoofa and Spanish surfer Hodei Collazo.