THE world's best surfers are gearing up for the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by LG Mobile, at Snapper Rocks from February 28 through March 11, 2009.
Event No. 1 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will see the return of reigning and nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 36, in his bid for an unprecedented tenth crown, but a swath of the world's top talents will be standing in his way.
Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, current ASP World No. 3, is one of the few on a short list of favored athletes who could potentially usurp Slater, and Burrow's reputation in right-hand pointbreaks such as Snapper Rocks is unrivaled by most.
"The first couple of weeks I was having a hell time and enjoying the summer, but beginning in January, I've been training full on," Burrow said. "I've been working with Johnny Gannon, and he'll be traveling the season with me. We've been training harder than ever before and I've been working on my flexibility and fitness and I feel like I'm surfing better than ever before."
With his progressive bag of tricks and his penchant for lightning-fast surfing, Burrow enters into Snapper Rocks as one of the favorites, and will look to kick off his 2009 ASP World Title campaign at the opening event.
"I think my surfing certainly suits warm water righthand pointbreaks and I'm always excited for the opening event of the season," Burrow said. "To get to surf Snapper Rocks with only one or two guys out is really special and I hope we get waves. I don't plan on changing too much in terms of my game plan this season. I felt like I was surfing really well last year and made few mistakes. Kelly (Slater) was just in really scary form last season so we'll see what happens."
Burrow will open up his 2009 season against Mikael Picon (FRA), 29, and one of the event wildcards in Round 1 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 27, current ASP World No. 4 and former Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast winner (2002), is excited to start off the 2009 season at home on the Gold Coast.
"I can't wait," Parkinson said. "I'm excited for another good year and hopefully we get really good waves. It's such a bonus to start the season here at home where I'm familiar with everything and know the banks really well. I'm really excited."
Parkinson has long been heralded as one of the leading contenders for the ASP World Title, but a career-high Runner-Up finish in 2002 and 2004 is as close as he has gotten.
"I've just been surfing a lot and training a lot," Parkinson said. "Just trying to get everything sorted before the season starts. In regards to Kelly (Slater), I haven't really figured that one out yet. You just have to be bigger, stronger, faster and more determined. I'm hungry this season though."
Parkinson will battle Dane Reynolds (AUS), 23, and Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23, in Round 1 of competition when the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast commences.
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 20, current ASP World No. 10, will enter into his third season on the ASP Dream Tour in 2009, and after two Top 10 finishes, the prodigious natural-footer is emerging as one of the dominant surfers of the new class.
"I don't have any specific goals for this season," Flores said. "I am very happy with the way my past two years have gone, finishing in the Top 10, and I'm only 20, so I'm just taking it in, gaining experience and training hard. Maybe in a couple of years I will go for the ASP World Title, but until then, I am just living the Dream."
Flores will face Roy Powers (HAW), 28, and Tim Boal (FRA), 25, in the opening heat of competition when Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast competition commences.
The 2009 ASP Top 45 will kick off this season's Dream Tour at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, which boasts a waiting period from February 28 - March 11, 2009.
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast is a mobile event, with Snapper Rocks serving as the primary venue, but utilizing nearby Duranbah Beach, Greenmount, Kirra, Burleigh Heads and as far north as Stradbroke Island should conditions call for it.
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast pres. by LG Mobile will be webcast LIVE via www.quiksilverpro.com.au
The event will incorporate the Roxy Pro Gold Coast pres. by LG Mobile, the opening event of the 2009 ASP Women's World Tour.
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Roy Powers (HAW), Tim Boal (FRA)
Heat 2: Bobby Martinez (USA), Ben Dunn (AUS), Dustin Barca (HAW)
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Heitor Alves (BRA), Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Damien Hobgood (AUS), Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 6: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Taylor Knox (USA), Marlon Lipke (DEU)
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Dane Reynolds (USA), Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA), Kieren Perrow (AUS), TBA
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Dayyan Neve (AUS), TBA
Heat 10: Taj Burrow (AUS), Mikael Picon (FRA), TBA
Heat 11: Luke Stedman (AUS), Dean Morrison (AUS), Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Heat 12: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Mick Campbell (AUS), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
Heat 13: Chris Ward (USA), Nathaniel Curran (USA), Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 14: Kai Otton (AUS), Chris Davidson (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 15: Tim Reyes (USA), Michel Bourez (PYF), David Weare (ZAF)
Heat 16: Tom Whitaker (AUS), Gabe Kling (USA), Jihad Khodr (BRA)