With the clock ticking down for event No. 1 on the 2007 Foster’s ASP World Tour – the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast – many of the world’s biggest surfing superstars have descended upon the world class wave of Snapper Rocks, Australia to get in some early practice.

With a solid swell pounding the coastline in the week leading up to the event, the world’s best have had ample opportunity to become acquainted with the famed break’s sandbar and with a forecasted swell on the way, the Quiksilver Pro could begin as early as day one of the official waiting period – Tuesday February 27th, 2007.

Reigning and eight-time Foster’s ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) will be back to defend both his World and Quiksilver Pro Titles when competition commences. Slater took out Taj Burrow (AUS) to win the Quiksilver Pro last year and despite the extra media attention he’ll receive when he’s honored at this weekend’s Foster’s World Champion’s Crowing at Conrad Jupiters Casino, Slater remains focused on the job at hand.

“You have to just get into the surf and the vibe, and not worry too much about the hoopla," Slater said. “There's a lot of music, gambling, etc., but the best thing about the Gold Coast is the surf; getting excited thinking about the waves is the best way to prepare."

Slater is the only non-Australian in the five-year history of the event to walk away with a Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast crown. He has acknowledged that defending his title may prove slightly more difficult citing a number of Australian challengers eager to see the trophy back in the hands of a countryman.

“Joel (Parkinson) could be a threat, coming off a great end of the year run," Slater said. “Mick (Fanning) is always ready and I think Taj (Burrow) was amongst those thinking they may have let some opportunities pass them by last year." Of the 11 rookies on this year’s tour, five are Australian and two, Josh Kerr and Luke Munro, are local.

“The rookies will surprise some people too," Slater said. “Josh is the dark horse because the World Tour guys don't know much about him and Luke, who has surfed Snapper as a wildcard, has already had some experience here." The Quiksilver Pro will also host the inaugural exhibition of the Foster’s Surf Showdown specialty event.

This innovative new exhibition format will pit nation against nation in an exciting team competition. The world’s best will be divided into five national teams: North America, South America, Hawaii, South Africa, Australia and Foster’s Rookie team.

Captained by Taylor Knox (USA), Victor Ribas (BRA), Pancho Sullivan (HAW), Greg Emslie (ZAF), Tom Whitaker (AUS) and Foster’s Rookie Josh Kerr (AUS) respectively, the captains will select two members from their teams to compete in the new format which replaces the Foster’s Expression Session.

“The Foster’s Surf Showdown will provide an excellent forum to showcase the already friendly yet passionate rivalries between the different nations on tour," said ASP CEO Brodie Carr. “The exhibition will provide the perfect compliment to the high-performance action that spectators get through the Foster’s ASP World Tour events already."

The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Trials will be held on Monday, Feb 26th, 2007 and will feature an array of internationally recognised and dynamic surfers.

Competing for highly-coveted event wildcard will be 16 trialists: Joan Duru (FRA), Clay Marzo (HAW), Teale Vanner (AUS), Maz Quinn (NZL), Ry Craike (AUS), Dale Richards (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Mar Ohno (JPN), Dean Bowen (AUS), Dave Reardon-Smith (AUS), Corey Ziems (AUS), Brent Dorrington (AUS), Wade Goodall (AUS), Kirk Flintoff (AUS), Jay Thompson (AUS) and a final trialist to be determined later in the week.

The winner of the trials will join Julian Wilson (AUS) and Jake Paterson (AUS) as one of three Quiksilver Pro Wildcards – each will draw top seeds in round one of competition. The waiting period for the Quiksilver and Roxy Pros begins February 27th, 2007. Be sure to catch all the action LIVE at www.aspworldtour.com, www.quiksilver.com and www.roxy.com