Photo: Jeremy Flores (FRA), 20, will lead the biggest European crew ever on next year’s ASP World Tour with six other men representing the rising nation in surfing
With the Billabong Pipeline Masters coming to an end yesterday, the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) International officially announced the new ASP Top 45 members who will compete on the world’s best waves for a shot at the prestigious ASP World title in 2009. After a historical year for European surfing in 2008 that saw four of its soldiers join the elite, next year will be another record for the rising nation in the sport as a total of seven competitors from Europe will be part of the Dream Tour.
With Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Miky Picon (FRA) guaranteed to requalify after their respective second and third places in Brazil, pressure was on those waiting for wildcards or big results in the last event of the year.
Tiago Pires (PRT), who was sitting No. 30 in the world before the Pipeline event, had a shot at requalifying directly through the ASP World Tour with a good result but unfortunately got injured, having to use his ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) No. 13 rank to secure a berth amongst next year’s ASP Top 45. That could have affected Marlon Lipke’s (DEU) fate as the German surfer, who finished his 2008 qualification campaign ranked No. 16 just outside the qualifying group, was hoping for Pires to score big at Pipeline and leave his WQS spot available.
Despite Pires not attending the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Marlon Lipke was given a wildcard by the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) International and the World Professional Surfers (WPS) getting his 2009 ASP World Tour ticket and joining the biggest European crew on tour ever. Lipke, a former ASP European Junior champion, who came to the final events on the North Shore of Oahu ranked No. 9, lived a nightmare during the two consecutive ASP WQS 6-Star Prime events where he dropped down to No. 16. Eventually, rewarding him for his stellar year and efforts, Lipke makes it to the top of the sport and becomes the first German surfer ever to compete on the ASP World Tour.
With ASP WQS campaigners Tim Boal (FRA), who was guaranteed to qualify after an impressive summer run, and Michel Bourez (PYF) who secured his Dream Tour pass after winning the prestigious ASP WQS 6-Star Prime Reef Hawaiian Pro, the last man waiting to find out about his destiny for 2009 was Aritz Aranburu (EUK).
Aranburu, who suffered three consecutive injuries during his rookie year among the ASP Top 45, ended the year with an equal 9th in the Billabong Pipeline Masters, a last effort that convinced the ASP and the WPS to award him a wildcard and a second chance to show his surfing in 2009. Aranburu had to wait until the end of the final day to be guaranteed to surf on next year’s ASP World Tour, the first ever Basque surfer being fully recovered and looking more determined than ever to get things going.
With seven men flying the European flag on the 2009 ASP World Tour, European surfers have made it clear that what many thought was historical in 2008 when four men qualified, is only the beginning of an era that could possibly see a European surfer become an ASP World Champion in the future.
2009 DREAM TOUR EUROPEAN QUALIFIERS
ASP World Tour No. 10 in 2008, Jeremy Flores (FRA)
ASP World Tour No. 18 in 2008, Miky Picon (FRA)
ASP World Tour No. 40 in 2008, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) INJURY WILDCARD
ASP WQS No. 3, Michel Bourez (PYF)
ASP WQS No. 11, Tim Boal (FRA)
ASP WQS No. 13, Tiago Pires (PRT)
ASP WQS No. 16, Marlon Lipke (DEU) WILDCARD