LOWER TRESTLES, California (Thursday, September 10, 2009) – The Hurley Pro Trestles, Event No. 6 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, is just days from commencing and the Southern California air is electric with the arrival of the world’s best surfers at one of the world’s most high-performance waves.
Kelly Slater (USA), 37, reigning nine-time ASP World Champion and defending event winner, came into the 2009 season surrounded by heavy expectations for an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title. However, a slow start to the year has prevented the Floridian from ascending to his usual place atop the rankings. Aside from an impressive victory in Brazil, Slater is holding three 17ths and a 9th, resulting in his present ASP World No. 8 rating.
“There’s a slight but distant possibility (for a 10th ASP World Title),” Slater said. “I’ve dedicated my year to a different direction than last year. It’s taxing to have that focus all year and I’m learning more about what it takes to win mentally and physically and with equipment. My goals are to surf better than I ever have and push others to do the same. I want people to leave the beach or shut off their computers not having wasted their time watching us. At the same time, when you’re not winning is a good time to see how different things appear around you. It’s been an interesting year for me.”
A threat at any and all venues on the ASP Dream Tour, Slater is certainly capable of rallying in the back half of the season, but standing in his way is runaway ratings’ leader Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28. Parkinson’s juggernaut season has seen him net three victories, a 3rd and a 9th en route to what could be his first ASP World Title.
“Joel (Parkinson) doesn’t seem as happy this year to many of us, but his priorities are clear,” Slater said. “I’ve felt like that some years that I’ve been really focused, and it’s easy for people to mistake that and what it is. This year is expansion for me and figuring out new directions to take what I can do.”
Ratings aside, Slater’s rapport with the cobblestone A-Frames of Lower Trestles is that of legend, and the defending event champion is easily one of the favorites at the upcoming Hurley Pro Trestles.
“It was the first wave I really got to surf when I came to California as a 12-year-old kid and I’ve always really loved it.” Slater said. “The wave has a great right and occasionally punchy left that could offer a barrel and good airs. It’s probably the most high-performance wave overall of the tour waves we surf. Rarely does a guy get lucky to win a heat there. Lots of surf history that has happened here and I’ve got a few good memories of my own, too. I love this event.”
Slater will take on Adrian Buchan (AUS), 26, and former ASP World No. 2 Rob Machado (USA), 36, in Round 1 of the Hurley Pro Trestles.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, former ASP World Champion (2007) and current ASP World No. 7, has been blowing minds this season with his incendiary performances, but the excellent results the Australian has been accustomed to in years past have evaded him so far in 2009.
“It’s been a strange year for me because I honestly feel like I’m in great condition and surfing my best and my heat score average this year backs that up,” Fanning said. “I’ve had a few shocking heats for waves and I’ve come up against guys that have had the heats of their lives. I’m not making excuses though; Mother Nature is an obstacle everyone on tour has to overcome. I’m comfortable with how I’m surfing and I’m psyched to surf harder and faster for the rest of the year. I’m going to really enjoy this next half of the season.”
Heightening the prestige and excitement surrounding this season’s event is the winner’s prize purse increase from US$40k to US$100k, bringing the total purse to a historic US$400k. The added monetary incentive, combined with the high-performance nature of the wave at Lower Trestles, will only serve to provide a dynamic new element to this year’s event.
“I think that it is great that Hurley have come to the party with the extra prize money,” Fanning said. “Obviously Bob (Hurley) does it because he’s of the opinion the winners should be earning more and I totally agree. It’s added incentive for the surfers to get the win which probably results in more radical more committed surfing, but I think it generates a lot more hype and excitement for fans too. I know when I’m watching two athletes battle it out for a decent amount of money, I get a real buzz, it doesn’t matter what sport I’m watching.”
Fanning will take on local Chris Ward (USA), 30, and 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Nic Muscroft (AUS), 27, in Round 1 of the Hurley Pro Trestles.
Kai Barger (HAW), 19, reigning ASP World Junior Champion, will contest his first elite ASP World Tour event at the upcoming Hurley Pro Trestles, earning one of three wildcards, along with Machado and current ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) No. 8, Brett Simpson, 24.
“I always surf my best when everyone expects me to lose,” Barger said. “I’m the rookie – okay. But if it’s overhead rights on a south, look out.”
Barger will face the ratings’ leader Parkinson and Kai Otton (AUS), 29, in Round 1 when competition commences.
Surfline, official forecasters of the Hurley Pro Trestles, is calling for a small fetch of Northwest swell in the next couple of days before a possible south swell later in the week.
The Hurley Pro Trestles will host the ASP 45 from September 13 – 19, 2009.
The event will be webcast LIVE via www.hurley.com/hurleypro/
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
HURLEY PRO TRESTLES ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS
Heat 1: Tom Whitaker (AUS), Ben Dunn (AUS), Michael Picon (FRA)
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA), Dustin Barca (HAW), Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA), Dayyan Neve (AUS), David Weare (ZAF)
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS), Chris Ward (USA), Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Tim Reyes (USA), Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Dane Reynolds (USA), Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
Heat 7: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), Marlon Lipke (DEU)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), Kai Barger (HAW)
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Rob Machado (USA)
Heat 10: Taj Burrow (AUS), Dean Morrison (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 11: Taylor Knox (USA), Chris Davidson (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Michel Bourez (PYF), Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Heat 13: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Josh Kerr (AUS), Jihad Khodr (BRA)
Heat 14: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jay Thompson (AUS), Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 15: Mick Campbell (AUS), Tim Boal (FRA), Nathaniel Curran (USA)
Heat 16: Kieren Perrow (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Roy Powers (HAW)