Monday, April 5, 2004 (Bells Beach, VIC, AUS)Local Victorian surfer Adam Robertson today wonthe Surf Dive ‘n’ Ski Trials for the secondconsecutive year, securing one of three wildcardpositions among the world’s elite in the 2004 RipCurl Pro. The prestigious World ChampionshipTournament (WCT) enters its 11-day waiting periodtomorrow, with only four days required tocomplete the event. Organizers will evaluateconditions each morning as to the day’s scheduleand updated information will be available onwww.ripcurl.com
The Surf Dive ‘N’ Ski Trials at Bells Beachconsisted of eight Victorian hopefuls, seveninternational Rip Curl Team riders, plusthree-time world champion Tom Curren (CA, USA). Around robin system was utilized, whereby eachsurfer contested three rounds and the highestfour accumulated totals then contested a final.
21-year-old Robertson was actually trailing onpoints leading into the decider, but then turnedhis fortune around with a win at the crucialstage. The natural footer gained control in the3ft (1m) conditions, repeating his 2003 victoryfor another shot at glory.
“I can’t believe it, said Robertson. “I reallywanted to win it again. I’ve watched the Rip CurlPro ever since I was born, and it’s such a goodevent. I’m so happy to be a part of it. I feellike I know the wave at Bells quite well, and todo it twice in a row is a really good confidencebooster. It also gives me a good chance to comeup against the main guys, so it’s great to seethem close up in the water and try to beat them.
Zane Harrison (Sunshine Coast, QLD) — the 1999Rip Curl Cup winner at Sunset Beach, Hawaii —finished runner-up today in the Surf Dive ‘N’ SkiTrials and also earned a main event start. Afterwinning his three earlier rounds, the 23-year-oldplaced fourth in the final, but had done enoughon adjusted points to progress. Following afractured pelvis injury that kept him out ofaction for most of the past two years, today’sresult is a major confidence booster.
“I was pretty lucky to finish second overall,reasoned Harrison. “I finished fourth in thefinal heat, but luckily I had the three winsearly on. I’ve had a fractured pelvis for thepast two years, so this is my first result andhopefully I’ll do well in the actual WCT. Aftermy injury, this is the best thing that could havehappened to me.
Reigning Australian and World Under 18 ChampionBen Dunn (Old Bar, NSW, Aus) — another Rip Curlteam rider – was granted the third wildcardposition directly into the main event last week,thus bypassing the cut-throat Surf Dive ‘N’ SkiTrials.
The 2004 Rip Curl Pro Press Launch was also heldthis morning, in the heart of Melbourne atFederation Square’s Transport Bar. An all-starensemble was present, with local media fillingthe venue for their opportunity to hear commentsfrom the world’s best surfers.
Reigning two-time consecutive world and Rip CurlPro champion Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) was on hand.The Kauaian is obviously out to match theprevious records of three consecutive eventtitles set by surfing legends Michael Petersonand Mark Richards, and commented on his amazingseason in 2003.
“The momentum I got after winning Bells reallystarted the year for me, acknowledged Irons.”Last year pushed me beyond anything I thought Iwas capable of. I’ve got the utmost respect forKelly and his time is definitely not over, butall the guys at this table are really hungryalso. I think it will be an awesome race thisyear again, but last year will always stay sweetin my heart. I’m really happy and proud of it.
Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (FL, USA) -who’s just posted back-to-back World QualifyingSeries (WQS) event victories in Australia -admitted his track record at Bells is below thepar he sets for himself.
“I’ve had a couple of really good weeks, saidSlater, of his recent wins. “(The Rip Curl Pro)hasn’t been a great contest for me. I did win in1994, but other than that my best results havebeen fifths. I had a close loss to ‘Occy’ (MarkOcchilupo) last yyear, but sometimes those lossesdrive you to surf harder and get yourself more intune with what you’re doing, and that’s whathappened here.
Current ASP ratings leader Mick Lowe (Windang,AUS), who won the opening WCT on Australia’s GoldCoast last month, pointed out the appeal acoveted Bells’ trophy holds.
“It’s a great feeling to start the year off sowell, especially knocking off Kelly and then Andyon the way, explained Lowe, of his recent win.”I’ve had a dream start, so I hope to keep themomentum going. Torquay holds a special place forus, and although I haven’t done too well in theRip Curl Pro in the past, we all want to win theBell. It’s probably the best trophy you can everwin in surfing.
World #6 Kieren Perrow (Byron Bay, AUS) offeredthe following take on his main opponents in theRip Curl Pro; “There are 47 others. Pretty muchevery heat you go into, you have to be preparedto face somebody who is wanting to win. Yourdedication and drive have to be just as strong astheirs. I’ll just be trying to stay relaxed.
The Rip Curl Pro is Australia’s longest runningprofessional surfing contest and holds a proudplace in surfing folklore, stretching back to1973. The Rip Curl Pro’s status as one of sixVictorian Government-designated Hallmark Eventseach year, alongside the Melbourne Formula Oneand Phillip Island Motorcycle Grand Prix, theAustralian Tennis Open, the Melbourne Cup and theAFL Grand Final, is an acknowledgment of itscontribution to the state’s rich sporting culture.
The 32nd annual Rip Curl Pro would not bepossible without the support given by SurfingVictoria, the Surf Coast Shire Council, theVictorian Department of Tourism, Sport & TheCommonwealth Games, and the Association ofSurfing Professionals – plus the supportingsponsorship of Nintendo, Coca-Cola, Triple M,Tracks, Nokia, Telstra, Falls Creek, FrankstonYamaha and Beaumont’s.
To read more on the event or for live resultsnext week check out www.ripcurl.com