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Million Dollar finale to ASP World Tours kicks off in Hawaii

November 12th, 2009

Pipeline - Hansens 2004

Thursday 12 November 2009 – The waiting period for surfing’s first US $1 million series of events kicks off in Hawaii later today as 144 men take to the waves in the 6-Star Prime rated Reef Hawaiian Pro, the first of three men’s and three women’s events in the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing that will crown the 2009 ASP World Champions, decide the men’s ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) and the qualifiers for the 2010 ASP World Tours.

The first event will get underway at 8pm SA time after Triple Crown Executive Director Randy Rarick made the decision to send the first round of heats out in 1 – 1.5 metre waves at Haleiwa.

Anticipation is at an all-time high after Vans’ announced that they will add $175 000 in Triple-Threat bonuses to the $825 000 in prize-money at stake in the events. $50,000 will be awarded to the men’s Triple Crown series champion, an extra $50,000 for the Billabong Pipeline Masters winner, a $50,000 bonus goes to the ASP World Champion, and a $25,000 bonus to the women’s Triple Crown champion.

The three events in the men’s Triple Crown are the Reef event (Nov 12-23), the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach (Nov24-6 Dec), the final event on the WQS, and the Billabong Pipeline Masters at Pipeline (Dec 8-20) that will crown the 2009 ASP World Champion.

The women also start out at Haleiwa with the Vans Hawaiian Pro (Nov 17-23), a specialty event featuring the ASP top 16 plus four rising stars, followed by the inaugural Gidget Pro Sunset Beach, the penultimate event on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour, and culminating at the Billabong Pro Maui where the Women’s World Champion will be decided.

Nine South Africans will be involved in the pressure-cooker competitive atmosphere for the finale to the 2009 ASP season, all of them with career changing scenarios at stake as the world’s best surfers take on what are considered the worlds most challenging waves.

Jordy Smith is the best placed of the Saffas, comfortably ensconced at No. 10 on the ASP World Tour rankings. Smith significantly raised his competition game plan in his second year on the Dream Tour after finishing 2008 rated No. 26, just inside the re-qualification cutoff point of No. 27. The 21 year-old Durbanite collected the Triple Crown Rookie of the Year award back in 2006 when he finished runner-up to Andy Irons (HAW) at the Sunset Beach event and he also reached the final there last year, sustaining a knee injury that prevented him from competing at Pipeline.

Smith has elected to recharge his competitive juices rather than compete in the Haleiwa event this year, but will be going all-out to win at Sunset Beach and become the first Saffa to capture an event title in Hawaii since the introduction of the two-tier ranking system in 1992. Then its on to his first event at Pipeline where his initial goal will be to improve his yearend ranking to No. 8 and preferential seeding on the 2010 ASP World Tour, before pushing on to try and finish amongst the Top 5 and earn substantial performance related bonuses from his sponsors.

Fellow World Tour campaigners Greg Emslie (East London) and David Weare (Durban) have opted to miss both the Haleiwa and Sunset Beach events and will be jetting out of SA on 30 November so they can spend a full week practicing at Pipeline rather than competing elsewhere in the lead up to the crucial showdown in the season ending event.

Emslie, who turns 33 the day before he leaves, is right on the re-qualification bubble at No. 31 in rankings. SA’s most successful pro surfer with career prize-money earnings of $607 525 is only 137 points behind the No. 27 spot and while a 17th place finish will be enough to make that up, the East Londoner probably needs 9th place to ensure he secures an unprecedented 10th year at surfing’s highest level of competition.

Weare, 29, faces a bigger hurdle after a tough 2009 season that sees him ranked No. 41 and nearly 700 points shy of re-qualification. The super-fit Durbanite is upbeat about his chances, even though he needs to manoeuvre his way past the world’s best competitors and the top Hawaiian pros with their intimate knowledge of the break and into the final at Pipeline to have a mathematical chance of a top 27 finish.

On the WQS, Travis Logie justified his decision to fly from Canada to the Canaries by picking up 1 575 points at the Santa Pro last week and consolidating his No. 10 ranking going into the last two events in Hawaii. The 30 year-old Durbanite, who spent four years at ASP’s top table before dropping out at the end of last year, has waged a tenacious campaign on The Grind this year and is well inside the top 15 who will qualify for the 2010 Dream Tour.

Logie has not competed at Haleiwa or Sunset Beach since 2005 but is seeded into the Round 64 in both events this year and, as he only needs to advance through one round of competition to improve his ratings tally, he looks a good bet for a return to the top flight in 2010.

Brandon Jackson, 22, leap-frogged into the No. 15 ratings slot after his outstanding 3rd place in Canada two weeks back, but slipped up when he was ousted in his first heat in Santa Cruz last week and dropped back to No. 20 going into the Hawaiian leg. The talented Durbanite starts in the Round of 96 at Haleiwa and Sunset and needs a semi-final berth in one of the events, or two quarterfinal finishes, to claim a career defining step up onto the World Tour.

Capetonian Royden Bryson, a former two-year campaigner on the ASP World Tour, gave himself a mathematical chance of re-qualifying by emulating Logie with a 17th place finish in the Canaries. The 27 year-old now occupies the No. 29 position and needs a minimum of pair of semifinal results to press for a Top 15 ranking.

Former Capetonian Damien Fahrenfort matched his career best 6-Star Prime event result of 5th place at Santa Cruz last week and he and Rudy Palmboom Jnr. from the Bluff are now just 50 points apart ranked No. 67 and No. 66 respectively. They start their campaigns in the Round of 128 in both events and will be psyched to take full advantage of the bonus 40% increase in ratings points available in the Prime rated events and pushing hard to improve their rakings going into 2010 when the ASP will implement the much vaunted ‘one world ranking’ system that combines WQS and World Tour points.

Last but by no means least, Rosanne Hodge stormed into the top 10 on the ASP Women’s World Tour rankings last week when she followed up her career best 3rd place result in Portugal with a 5th place finish in Peru. The 22 year-old from East London is now No. 9 going into Hawaii and will be looking to consolidate her position in the top 10 to ensure she re-qualifies for a fourth successive season in the highest echelon of women’s surfing.

Hodge will warm-up in the specialty event at Haleiwa before charging at the penultimate event of the year at Sunset Beach and then looking to repeat or better her excellent results in the season ending event in the epic barrels at Honolua Bay on Maui, the only Triple Crown event not run on the North Shore of Oahu.

The race for the ASP Women’s World Title is a four-way battle between reigning and two-time champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), who leads the ratings; Brazilian Silvana Lima, who is the only two-time event winner this year; former World champ Sofia Mulanovich, who won the last event in her home country of Peru to move into the No. 3 spot, and 18-year-old Hawaiian, Coco Ho.

The 2009 men’s crown is a straight shootout between Australian buddies Mick Fanning, the 2007 ASP World Champion, and Joel Parkinson, the defending Triple Crown champion, each of whom have won three events this season. Parkinson needs to finish two positions higher than Fanning in the Billabong Pro Pipeline to overtake his compatriot and clinch his first World title.

All the action throughout the six events can be watched via live webcasts at www.aspworldtour.com or www.triplecrownofsurfing.com

The events of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing
Reef Hawaiian Pro (WQS men) – Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park, Nov, 12-23
Vans Hawaiian Pro (Specialty women) – Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park, Nov, 17-23

Gidget Pro Sunset Beach (Women’s World Tour) – Sunset Beach, Nov. 24-Dec. 6
ONeill World Cup of Surfing (WQS men) – Sunset Beach, Nov. 24-Dec. 6

Billabong Pro Maui (Women’s World Tour) – Honolua Bay, Maui, Dec. 8-20
Billabong Pipeline Masters (Men’s World Tour) – Banzai Pipeline, Dec. 8-20

For more information on the ASP Africa members, including profiles and rankings, visit www.aspafrica.com

Ends

The 2009 ASP Men’s World Champion will be decided in the epic waves at Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii

Issued on behalf of:

ASP Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: aspafrica@mweb.co.za

Compiled & Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Fax: +27 (0) 86 684 6250
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

About ASP:

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) is the governing body of professional surfing. Crowning surfing’s undisputed world champions since 1976, the ASP sanctions the following tours: the ASP World Tour, the ASP Women’s World Tour, the World Qualifying Series (WQS) and the World Longboarding, Junior and Masters Championships. The ASP is dedicated to showcasing the world’s best surfing talent in a variety of progressive formats and has revolutionized the way the world watches surfing via their webcasts. The organization is divided into seven different regions: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America, and South America.

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