Recently retired ASP World Tour surfer Danny Wills (Byron Bay, AUS) and rising star Julian Wilson (Coolum, AUS) have been awarded main event wildcards into the upcoming Quiksilver Pro presented by LG Mobile.
Though at opposite ends of their careers, both surfers are capable of causing damage to the ASP Top 45 in the season-opening ASP World Tour event on Australia’s Gold Coast from February 28th to March 11th.
After more than a decade as a full-time professional surfer, Wills, 33, announced his retirement at the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii in December last year.
“It’s a big change after knowing no different for the last 15 years but it was my choice to give it away,” Wills said. “I’m really stoked to be finished and I’m enjoying home life with the family. There will be no pressure at all (in the Quiksilver Pro presented by LG Mobile) it will be great to be on the side of the hunter and not the hunted this year.”
Wills and Wilson will draw one of the world’s top three-rated surfers of either nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), ASP World No. 2 Bede Durbidge (Gold Coast, AUS) or ASP World No. 3 Taj Burrow (Yallingup, AUS) in Round 1 of competition.
Twenty-year-old sensation Wilson will be competing in his third consecutive Quiksilver Pro presented by LG Mobile as a wildcard. Entering with experience on his side this year, Wilson could prove more dangerous than in 2007 when he relegated Slater (Florida, USA) into the sudden death Round 2 heats with an opening-heat win.
“I haven’t got anything to lose – I love it,” Wilson said. “Surfing against the world’s best is fun. Uou learn a lot and I know the wave at Snapper so I’m excited to make the most of this amazing opportunity. Kelly (Slater) would be fun to draw.”
The prodigious talent has just bounced back from an ankle injury – that had kept him out of the water for the last three months of 2008 – with an ASP Pro Junior win earlier in January.
“I spent three months out of action and it feels so good to be surfing again,” Wilson said. “I won my first event back. I’m not at one hundred percent just yet, but I’m winning so my confidence is there.”
Again this year, Wilson will be riding and auctioning a pink surfboard at the Quiksilver Pro to raise awareness and funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
The third and final wildcard will be granted to the winner of the Quiksilver Pro Trials, to be staged in conjunction with the Roxy Pro Trials on Friday, February 27th.
The season-opening ASP Women’s World Tour event, the US$90,000 Roxy Pro presented by LG Mobile, and the opening men’s world tour event, the US$340,000 Quiksilver Pro presented by LG Mobile, will commence on Saturday, February 28th and run through to March 11th.
Both opening ASP 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 waves.