2003 Rip Curl Pro World Championship Tournament
YOUNG LOCALS WIN RIP CURL PRO WILDCARDS
Two young Australian surfers – Adam Robertson and Nic Muscroft – today defeated an international field to win wildcard berths and the right to take on the world’s best surfers in the 2003 Rip Curl Pro World Championship Tournament, beginning tomorrow at Victoria’s Bells Beach.
In clean one-metre surf at Winkipop, adjacent to Bells Beach, locals Robertson and Muscroft battled through four rounds of competition in the Surf Dive’n’Ski Trials against six other Victorians and eight international rivals, to realise long-held ambitions of getting a chance to take on the sport’s elite.
Both 20-year-olds, Muscroft and Robertson are close friends and training partners embarking on their first full year on the pro tour this year. 2003 is the third time both have surfed in the Trials and the first time either of them have succeeded in reaching the Rip Curl Pro World Championship Tournament.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to make the Rip Curl Pro main event, it’s so sweet, I didn’t even have a sponsor at the start of the year,” Robertson said, adding: “I reckon I’ve watched this contest since I was about three years old, and I reckon Nic and I are the two happiest kids in the world right now.”
Echoing those sentiments, Muscroft said: “It’s an amazing feeling to finally make the main event, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of – getting the chance to surf against some of my heroes.”
Muscroft and Robertson admitted the challenge facing them in the coming days is a daunting one, though they feel their local knowledge may give them some advantage.
“Local knowledge definitely helps at Bells, but realistically I’ll have to be at the top of my form to win heats,” Muscroft said.
Robertson said: “Mick Fanning showed two years ago (when he won as a “wildcard”) that anything is possible and I’ll be trying my hardest.”
As the lowest seeds in the 48-man field for the Rip Curl Pro, Muscroft has drawn 2002 world champion Andy Irons of Hawaii and Australia’s current world number one Dean Morrison in Round One of the US$250,000 event, while Robertson faces 2002 world number two Joel Parkinson of the Gold Coast and Californian world number three Pat O’Connell.
The official 12-day waiting period for the 31st anniversary Rip Curl Pro starts tomorrow, and with surf conditions forecast to be in the two to four metre range, Round One of this year’s second World Championship Tournament is likely go ahead.
Defending Rip Curl Pro and world champion Andy Irons of Hawaii is one surfer hoping the surf doesn’t arrive tomorrow, as he’s stuck in Hawaii and is not due to arrive in Australia until Wednesday morning, after losing his passport over the weekend.
If the competition does start tomorrow and Irons’ misses his first round heat, he won’t be eliminated from the competition, though he will face a man-on-man knockout heat in Round Two – a less than ideal start to his defence of the sport’s most coveted event title.=