The announcement that one of the world’s most experienced surfers, Jake “The Snake” Paterson (AUS), has been awarded a wildcard into the Quiksilver Pro presented by Samsung is sure to send shivers through the worlds top ranks.
After 11 years on tour, Paterson failed to re-qualify for the 2007 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour, bowing out with a do-or-die performance at Pipeline in the 2006 season-ending event.
The 34 year-old is elated to be lining-up alongside his peers in the first tournament of the season at Snapper Rocks on Australia’s Gold Coast from February 26th to March 11th. The men’s tournament will be staged in conjunction with the opening ASP Women’s World Tour event, the Roxy Pro presented by Samsung.
“I’m super stoked,” said Paterson. “I get to say goodbye to the Aussie fans because the tour ended in Hawaii and that could have been my final competition over there. I’m over the moon that Quiksilver have given me the chance to say thanks to all the fans.”
Regarded as one of the most dangerous competitors in any line-up, the tenacious West Australian possesses a lethal forehand attack that has proven to be extra deadly in powerful right-handers. The natural footer has twice finished equal-fifth at the Snapper Rocks ‘Superbank’ (2003 & 2004) and also scored one of the most memorable ten-point barrels in the five year history of the tournament.
“I love Snapper, it’s a hollow right hander and that suits me down to the ground so I feel right at home out there, said Paterson. “I’m hoping to have a good board and put on a good show at The Super Bank! If we get Snapper on, it can be the best contest of the year. Huge crowds, warm water and sick waves; what better way to start the tour off.”
Paterson will be tested from his opening heat of the US$300,000 tournament drawing one of the top three seeded surfers in either eight time world and defending event champion Kelly Slater (USA), Andy Irons (Haw) or Mick Fanning (Aus).
“Being a wildcard means you draw the high seeds so hopefully I go up against someone not from Australia and try and beat them, so one of the top Aussie boys gets a good start to the title race,” said Paterson. “I want to say I’m under no pressure but there is still going to be pressure, I want to do well.”
The other main event wildcard has been granted to Quiksilver ISA U/18 World Junior Champion Julian Wilson (Sunshine Coast, Qld). The talented teenager is poised to explode on the international arena and the Gold Coast tournament could well be the stepping stone. Paterson believes if Wilson can maintain a mental edge he is capable of causing damage to the world’s top 45 competitors.
“Julian is one of the young Aussie’s leading the charge right now and it’s still going to be a huge learning curve for him,” said Paterson. “He is capable of a good result but he needs to think in his own mind that he can beat the top guys first and if he can do that, I’m sure he will kick someone’s ass.” Wilson who finished runner-up on last year’s ASP Australasian Junior Circuit will be using his local knowledge at Snapper Rocks as a confidence booster against his world ranked opponents.
“I’ve been surfing Snapper since I was a grommet and I’m very fortunate because there is no pressure on me whatsoever,” he said. It really is anyone’s game out there and I know if I get two good waves then I’m confident the scores will be in the excellent range, which would be enough to put pressure on my opponent. I’m just very excited at the prospect of competing in round one of the Quiksilver Pro in front of my friends and family.”
The third and final wildcard will be awarded to the winner of the Quiksilver Pro Trials contested by a field of 16 qualifying and invited surfers.
The line-up features Australia’s highest placed non-qualifying WQS surfer Kirk Flintoff (Cronulla, NSW), second highest non-qualifying WQS surfer Jay Thompson (Burleigh, Qld) ASP Australasian junior champion Wade Goodall (Sunshine Coast, Qld), QCC winner Dave Reardon-Smith (Sunshine Coast, Qld), QCC runner-up Cory Ziems (Currumbin, Qld), Quiksilver U/18 Australian Grommet Champion Teale Vanner (Sth Aus), Quiksilver Pre-Trials winner Brent Dorrington (Tweed Heads, NSW), Joan Duru (FRA), Clay Marzo (Maui), Maz Quinn (NZ), Dale Richards (Tweed Heads, NSW), Michel Bourez (PYF) and Mar Ohno (JPN).
The USD$300,000 Quiksilver Pro presented by Samsung and the opening ASP Women’s World Tour event the USD$80,000 Roxy Pro presented by Samsung will both have a waiting period from February 27th to March 11th.
The worlds top 45 and top 17 female surfers will descend on the Gold Coast next month and all fingers will be crossed for a cyclone swell so the now world famous “Super bank” stretching from Snapper Rocks all the way through to Kirra can crank up the action.
Both opening world tour events are mobile, granting access to some of the best surf breaks on the planet. The tournament will be based at Snapper Rocks, yet can travel from Stradbroke Island to Duranbah Beach on the Qld/NSW state border in search of optimum conditions.
Venues such as Snapper Rocks, Greenmount, Kirra and Burleigh will hold priority, with visions of long, right-hand barrels filling competitors’ minds in the lead up. All spots offer great viewing for spectators to soak up the phenomenal surfing assured to take place. With US$380,000 prize money on offer, as well as an early ratings lead for the eventual winner, all focus will be on the Gold Coast as the dream tours get underway.