While the major focus of the upcoming ASP World Champions’ Banquet to be held on the Gold Coast of Australia on February 24th, 2007 will be the official crowning of 2006 World Champions Kelly Slater (USA) and Layne Beachley (AUS), two surfers who will also be savouring their moment in the spotlight will be 2006 ASP Rookies of the Year Bobby Martinez (USA) and Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS).
Martinez and Miley-Dyer spent 2005 battling through the ASP’s second tier tour, the World Qualifying Series (WQS), then unleashed on surfing’s elite Foster’s ASP World Tour and ASP Women’s World Tour in 2006 notching up three top tour wins between them. Martinez who finished the year in fifth place on the final ratings blew minds when he began his stellar season with an astonishing third place at the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast.
He was ousted from that event by eventual winner and good friend Slater but the experience was enough for him to gain the confidence to claim two top tour events – the first at the infamous Billabong Pro Teahupoo in Tahiti and the second when he returned a blow to Slater by defeating him in the final of the Billabong Pro Mundaka in Spain.
“It’s still quite hard to believe, 2006 just moved so fast with the tour, traveling and all the new events that I went to,” said the ever-humble Martinez of his Rookie of the Year status. “As it is for every guy who makes it on the Foster’s ASP World Tour, it’s a dream come true to be here competing with the best surfers in the world.”
And while the wins were sweet Martinez did encounter a few low points when things didn’t go his way… So how will his 2006 learnings affect his 2007 campaign?
“I think I learnt a lot as a person and a competitor last year and hopefully I’ve matured with all the experience I gained from the ups and downs of traveling and competing on the tour,” said Martinez. “Gold Coast, Tahiti, Fiji and Mexico were awesome events and I was lucky to get some good results. But from South Africa to France I kind of hit a slump, which can easily take away any competitors’ confidence.
“Luckily I was with good friends on the road,” he continued. “I traveled with the Hobgood brothers, my Reef team manager and a great buddy from home. Those guys really helped me out and helped me to stay confident and to just have a good time with it.
“I had fun year in 2006 but I still feel I made some little mistakes here and there and I am looking forward to trying a couple of different things in ’07 and hopefully the results will come.” For ASP Women’s World Tour rookie Miley-Dyer, her first year was equally as satisfying with her list of achievements beginning back in January ’06 when she claimed the inaugural women’s Billabong ASP World Junior Championship crown.
From there she excelled by taking the ASP Women’s World Qualifying Series title plus the final event of the ASP Women’s World Tour – the Billabong Pro Maui in Honolua Bay.
“I’m really happy. All I’ve ever wanted was to do well on the ASP Women’s World Tour and to get rookie of the year is a prestigious honour,” said Miley Dyer. “If you look at the list of names who have won it it’s such a great thing. Plus to have won the Billabong ASP World Juniors, the ASP World Qualifying Series then the last event of the year and now Rookie… you can’t ask for much better than that!”
As to taking on her childhood heroes and winning…
“To have looked up to girls like Megan, Layne and Rochelle for so long then to be able to compete against them is a privilege,” said Miley-Dyer. “And then to do well is just a bonus! It’s something that I’m really grateful for… to be on tour and have such an amazing life… I can’t believe that I’ve done so well.”
Going into 2007 Miley-Dyer indicated that she has shed the nerves associated with being a fresh face on tour and is hopeful that more success is only a few weeks away when the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast kicks off this year’s ASP Women’s World Tour.
“I learnt a lot [in 2006]… When you are the rookie on tour you make a lot of mistakes and I think I’ve ironed out a lot of them,” said Miley-Dyer. “I just hope to do well again in 2007 but most importantly have fun and appreciate what I’ve been given.
What I’m doing is traveling around the globe with a massive group of mates chasing waves! I’ll be a lot more comfortable this year… especially after winning the last event, gaining confidence in yourself that you can win. I’m just going to relax and not put so much pressure on myself.”
See the world’s best surfers tackle the world’s best waves on this year’s Foster’s ASP World Tour and ASP Women’s World Tour beginning on February 27th on Australia’s Gold Coast. For the full tour schedule and 2007 surfer’s list and more head to the ASP website.