The official waiting period for the Billabong Pro Mundaka, stop No. 8 of 10 on the Foster’s ASP World Tour, begins just one day after the completion of the Quiksilver Pro France currently underway in Hossegor. The Billabong Pro waiting period stretches from October 2-14, 2007.
The Spanish event plays an integral role in the race for an ASP World Title, as illustrated last year when Kelly Slater (USA) sealed his 8th world title at Mundaka with two events to spare. Slater also credits his sole Billabong Pro Mundaka win as being a precursor to one of surfing’s most exciting title races – the 2003 battle between himself and 3X World Champion Andy Irons (HAW).
“Mundaka has set me up for a couple of really good years,” Slater said. “In 2003 it set me up pretty good because I had a win there and then last year, obviously, to win the title in Mundaka felt nice. The Spanish people have been really, really supportive and if the waves go off it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world to surf. Hopefully we get some swell.”
Halfway through this season, five surfers sit in strong contention for the title. Australian Mick Fanning sits atop the ratings, followed by Slater, Taj Burrow (AUS), Andy Irons (HAW) and Joel Parkinson (AUS).
Though Burrow, currently rated World No. 3, has fared well at Mundaka, he has never won the event.
“I’ve nailed a 3rd place and a runner-up finish back in ‘03 when Kelly won so I’m pretty excited to step it up and turn this last result into a 1st,” Burrow said. “Mundaka is crucial for sure, last year Kelly won the title there, and this year, the title race looks crazier than ever. So I’m definitely focused on this event.”
Defending Billabong Pro Mundaka Champion Bobby Martinez (USA) won last year’s event as a rookie – scalping his second win on the 2006 Foster’s ASP World Tour with the victory. His first win was at another barrelling left –Teahupoo, Tahiti.
“It’s cool to go back to Mundaka, but last year is last year and I might do what I did in Tahiti this year and get a 17th,” Martinez said. “I’m looking forward to going back because I had fun, but that’s as far as it goes. It’s not like I have a lot of confidence because I won there, that was last year. Hopefully we’ll get some waves and just see how it goes.”
Held at Europe’s best left-hand wave in the fishing village of Mundaka, the venue boasts a long and hollow wave barrelling over 200 meters at the river mouth of the Guernika river.
World Qualifying Series (WQS) No. 3 Tiago Pires (PRT), Tahitian charger Manoa Drollet (PYF) and local surfer Hodei Collazo (SPN) have been given wildcards into the main event. Pires has already qualified for the 2008 ASP World Tour, Drollet, a Teahupoo specialist, will experiment the hollow tubes of Mundaka for the first time in his career and Collazo delighted the local community with his 2006 Billabong Pro clash with Slater.
Collazo will be utilizing his fourth Billabong Pro Mundaka wildcard to gain added experience against the world’s best.
“Mundaka is a fantastic opportunity for me to compete against the world’s best surfers,” Collazo said. “I’ve been doing the WQS for a few years now and my goal is to qualify for the World Tour so getting a wildcard every year at Mundaka is a good way to see how my surfing is evolving.”
The Billabong Pro Mundaka will officially start on October 1st, with the inaugural ceremony and press launch to be held at The Casino at 10:30am, and surfing to potentially begin the next day.