BANZAI PIPELINE, Hawaii (Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008) – Just two short years ago Bede Durbidge (AUS) was paddling out at Pipeline an under-the-radar, unsponsored 23-year-old eager to prove himself in Hawaiian waters.
Now the World No. 2 surfer, second only to nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) on the ASP World Tour ratings, will paddle out for the 2008 Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters the defending event and Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Champion after winning both the contest and the specialty series in 2007.
The waiting period for the Billabong Pipeline Masters, the final event on the 2008 ASP World Tour, runs from Dec. 8 – 20, with competition held on the best three days of surf. If Durbidge can back up his 2007 performance at Pipeline, the Australian will finish the year runner-up to the 2008 ASP World Title.
"I have had a great year on tour and even though Kelly has won the title I really want to finish the year out strong," Durbidge said. "It's so cool coming back to Hawaii with such good memories from last year and being able to have the chance to go back to back."
Conditions at Pipeline were uncharacteristically small last year and Durbidge, who also won the last stop on the ASP World Tour in Brazil, is hoping for an opportunity to defend his title in classic Hawaiian surf at the world's most revered surf break.
"Last year was small and not the best conditions," Durbidge said. "I think this year will be a lot better and I would love to get some big barrels out there. I'm really looking forward to just having a heat out there because trying to free surf it is really hard with so many guys out."
The event, which features a total of 64 surfers – the ASP Top 45, three event wildcards, 14 Hawaiian Pipeline Specialists, a Vans Triple Crown contender and a Tahitian invitee – will utilize the ASP Dual Heat format from Round 1 through the Quarters, with the Semifinals and Final featuring man-on-man competition.
As the No. 2 seed, Durbidge will no doubt draw Pipe specialists early on, but coming into the event a defending champ and fresh from victory in Brazil, his confidence should be at an all-time high.
A complete 64-man draw, Vans Triple Crown of Surfing ratings and ASP World Tour requalification scenarios will be circulated tomorrow.
For more information please visit www.aspworldtour.com and www.triplecrownofsurfing.com.