Over on that beautiful island south of India, Sri Lanka, the final 16 surfers to compete in the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro have been decided. It's been a stellar contest thus far, due to the fact it is being held at a releativley new wave, the freshly dicovered Arugram Bay Sri Lanka. Here's the official info of what has taken place thus far courtesy of the ASP:
Arugam Bay Sri Lanka: Yet another splendid day of surfing in sweltering heat on Sri Lanka's lush south east coastline with the round of 24 completed and now just 16 surfers remain in the Association of Surfing Professionals 6-star rated Sri Lankan Airlines Pro.
Indonesia's Dede Suryana was again in outstanding form and the 24 year-old west Javanese surfer is enthusiastic about his chances here.
"It is such a great wave and I'm getting more and more to know how the wave breaks and I really feel confident out there" said Suryana after his impressive heat win defeating South Africa's Ricky Basnett.
Wild card surfer Julian Wilson was also extremely impressive today again posting the days highest heat score with 15.60 (out of a possible 20) defeating and eliminating New Zealand's Richard Christie.
Others to impress today included Dion Atkinson (AUS), Davey Cathels (AUS), Jayke Sharpe (AUS), Nat Young (USA) and Austin Ware (USA) while the number one and two seeds in Dan Ross and Drew Courtney are professionally destroying their opponents and look fully focused as we head into the final 16
It really is the business end of the contest with 3 man heats surfed today and tomorrow it's down to surfing's purest competitive format with surfers paired off into man-on-man heats.
Australia's Adam Robertson is no stranger to the man-on-man format with noteworthy results at Bells Beach over the years and he's delighted to be through to the final 16.
"This wave will be really suited to the man-on-man heats " said Robertson.
"The run around after you complete a wave has seen the inside position out here totally compromised in four-man heats but that's gone and I actually think you'll see performances rise significantly from here on in as each surfer chases and positions himself for the very best waves in each heat --- they are calling for bigger and cleaner swells tomorrow and that's exciting, not just for me but for all of us" added Robertson.
Robertson faces a block buster heat against Julian Wilson tomorrow and with swells expected to be significantly larger it's a much anticipated clash of two very precise and power driven surfers.
Hawaii's flamboyant Mason Ho is also through and he'll no doubt delight in the larger waves forecast.
Two day's remain and organizers are looking to nurture this event through an epic finish aiming to run all remaining heats through the pristine morning conditions.
Round of 16 Heats:
1. Daniel Ross (AUS) V Hodie Collazo (SPAIN)
2. Chris Friend (AUS) V Nat Young (USA)
3. Austin Ware (USA) V Ricky Basnett (STH AFRICA)
4. Jayke Sharpe (AUS) V Dede Suryana (INDONESIA)
5. Julian Wilson (AUS) V Adam Robertson (AUS)
6. Rhys Bombacci (AUS) V Dion Atkinson (AUS)
7. Drew Courtney (AUS) V Romain Cloitre (FRANCE)
8. Mason Ho (HAWAII) V Davey Cathels (AUS)
It's not exactly the Superbank or Santa Barbara's Sand Spit, but the little righthander in Sri Lanka is as good of a wave as you'll find at the 6-Star level of WQS events. The contest got underway over the weekend in decent conditions with a handful of key players in attendance.
Santa Cruz torch bearer Nat Young is carrying most of the weight for the mainland Americans, with some help from Austin Ware. Young has advanced into the Round of 24, and his lethal backhand attack should keep him moving. He's joined by his fellow O'Neil teammate John John Florence in the same round.
Florence, as we saw at Lowers, is pretty lethal in the right hand points.
But the Australians will be putting up a huge fight, with Julian Wilson, Mitch Coleborn, Daniel Ross, Jakye Sharp, Adam Robertson and Drew Courtney all locked and loaded.
The ASP's new reality is just beginning to sink in for the majority surfers in town for the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro.
Back in October, headlines warned surfers of the ASP's decision to cut the world tour roster from 45 surfers to 32 midway through this season. And the axe is now looming large with just two World Tour events left before heads roll. Naturally, the pending cut is garnering most of the media's attention.
But it's only half the story.
What slipped under the headlines was the ASP's promise to finally address significant structural changes to the entire ranking system during the January 2010 off season. Chief among them was solving the "one world ranking" concept they'd tossed aside a year earlier.
And solve it they did.
After weeks of stressful debate during the January break, the ASP brass finally emerged from their hidden bunker with changes in hand -- the most dramatic ever made.
Yet there was hardly any fanfare -- no screaming headlines -- just a new tour schedule that separated events into three tiers: World Tour at the top, Prime in the middle, and Star Series at the bottom. Each level provides precious ratings points toward the newly announced "ASP World Ranking."
The World Ranking is a list that includes surfers at every tier, including the elite World Tour surfers. While the World Ranking is playing a similar role to the WQS this year, its full impact comes in 2011, when it becomes the only ranking that matters.
In 2011, elite World Tour eligibility becomes far more fleeting than it is today, because the roster will be refreshed several times per year (word is three or four times, but has yet to be decided) using the most up to date list of the Top 32 based on the new World Rankings.
In order to qualify or remain eligible to surf in the elite World Tour events -- events that ultimately decide the title -- a surfer will have to perform, because losing early -- at any level -- is severely punished with the new point system. If an elite World Tour surfer starts his season with back-to-back 33rd place finishes, unless he's been keeping his ranking up via the second tier Prime events he's certain to miss the next cut.
That said, he can just as easily climb back into the Top 32 via the Prime events and 6 Stars, and find his way back to the elite level before the next one.
"We'll see guys fall off the World Tour after the first cut and claw there way back on later that same year, and vice versa," says Ian Cairns, who founded the ASP in 1983. "What it ultimately means is if you're not performing there's absolutely no job security in pro surfing anymore -- which is how it should be."
Cairns is quick to point out the positives of this new system. "The best young talent will be fast-tracked to the top," he insist. "If Julian Wilson goes on a hot streak he won't have to toil in the minor leagues for three years. He can get up to that elite level in a hurry, because the hottest guys -- the guys who perform -- go straight to the top. So each level will be much more competitive and exciting. This event is proof of that."
In fact, Julian Wilson seems ready to rush the door opening in front of him next year. After winning his Round of 96 heat Wednesday afternoon he told beach reporter Jodie Nelson, "I'm all about getting on that horse as quickly as possible," referring to his elite World Tour ambitions.
The points available to him at the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro (one of nine Prime events on this year's schedule) hold up nicely next to the points handed out at elite World Tour events. Saturday's winner will earn as many World Ranking points as an equal third place finish would net at an elite event like Bells, Snapper or Teahupoo. See breakdown.
The reality of that breakdown is modifying the travel itineraries of the world's best surfers, who are showing up in droves to compete in events like the the 6.0 at Lowers -- not just because they may want to, but because they have to.
More than 30 of the Top 45 showed up at Margaret River last month for the Drug Aware Pro, including Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow and Joel Parkinson. And 35 of the Top 45 are here at Trestles, including Dane Reynolds, Jordy Smith and Bobby Martinez. The big winner of all this, of course, is the fan who gets to see more of his favorite surfer.
"It's really just starting to sink in for a lot of these guys...what this all means," says Cairns. "The bummer for guys like Brett Simpson and Dusty Payne is you couldn't have picked a worse year to be a rookie. It only buys you about a half season of protection this year. But next year it only gets worse -- for everyone. The next cut will always be right around the corner."
Ahhh Julian Wilison. Fresh faced, tan, likes to wear really bad necklaces. You know the guy, Australia's answer to the whole Jordy and Dane thing. Yeah, him. Well, he just dropped his own blog/site and after spending the last hour or so "researching" (read: mindlessly looking at it) I'm giving it two thumb's up.
In a world where every pro worth his salt has his site, there are a few really good ones and a few that limp along. Dane's blog, MarineLayerProductions.com is quite awesome as is Dion Agius' at Globe.tv/dion. So when Julian launched his own, our ears perked.
"I've been trying to get it going for the past six months. It's more shit for people to look at, allowing them to follow the movie and keep them updated on what's going on," said Julian in a recent interview with Stab. "It will be the first place I put up all my teasers and webisodes for the new movie up."
The face of the blog looks more like a slick web site than a pro surf blog, so kudos there, Jules. It's got daily updates and some broke-neck video. Plus, there's a few teasers for his new film, Scratching the Surface. It's definitely worth a look the next time you're looking to kill an hour at work. All in all it's a good source for everything Julian Wilson.
Here's the link: JulianWilson.com
Now go surf.