San Clemente, California (Monday, Sep 25, 2000) Theinaugural Billabong Pro to be held at ‘Lowers’ Trestleswas officially launched last night upon the 105-footyacht ‘Dream On’ with the majority of competitors, contestorganizers and officials, as well as local and internationalmedia present. This event marks the 11th stop on theAssociation of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 2000 WorldChampionship Tour (WCT), and while it was decided topostpone the first two days of competition from yesterdaythe 24th of September until tomorrow, Tuesday the 26th,due to lack of swell, all other factors are geared towarda fantastic tournament.
Hundreds of guests were treated last night to finefood, plenty of drinks, a press conference, and thena live musical set by band ‘Sunchild.’ Billabong USA’sPaul Naude officially welcomed everyone and thankedthose responsible for all their hard work leading upto this event, before ASP President Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomewmade the following speech:
“Trestles has always been on the wish list,” claimedthe 1978 world champion surfer. “And dreams come truein 2000. It is the premier venue in Southern Californiaand surfers will be cutting loose. With three eventsleft, this is pivotal on this years’ tour. Sunny Garcia(Haw) and Luke Egan (Aus) have been blazing all year,but with Rob Machado (USA) just winning two events inEurope, Shane Dorian (Haw) at Mundaka (Spain), and CJHobgood’s (USA) maiden WCT win at Hossegor (France),things have tightened.
“We’re in the home stretch now,” Bartholomew continued.”But there are some major wildcards in the draw here.Kelly Slater (USA), Joel Parkinson (Aus)…. Congratulationsto Billabong. I’m looking forward to a fantastic eventat Trestles.”
A handful of the worlds’ best surfers then answeredquestions posed by former top professional John Shimooka(Haw), who will act as commentator during the BillabongPro. He began by asking Egan the importance of thisevent for his campaign to catch ratings leader Garciabefore the year is over.
“Sunny’s been incredible all year,” acknowledged Egan.”We both did similar throughout Europe and I’ve beenmaintaining my position, but he hasn’t lost early andI haven’t really gained ground. I’m stoked to surf Trestlesin an event, though. It’ll be the best surfing in thehistory of the spot.”
Machado, who returned to the winning circle with twoWCT victories in France, recently, agreed the surfinglevel is sure to be extremely high at Trestles, andadded how glad he was to be close to his own bed fora change.
“It’s nice to be home,” he stated with a laugh. “Igrew up surfing at Lowers and am looking forward toit. Man-on-man heats at Lowers… the level will beamazing.”
Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA), who actuallywon his first professional surfing event at this samelocation back in 1990, now finds himself filling a wildcardposition offered by event sponsor Billabong. Despitechoosing not to compete full-time the past couple ofyears, Slater has still managed two major wins. ThePipeline Masters last December in Hawaii, and then atTeahupoo, Tahiti, earlier in 2000. With nothing to proveand already being presented as a ‘spoiler’, his heatsat Trestles are sure to be the most anticipated.
“I feel good,” stated the six-time world champ. “I’mexcited about surfing at the moment. I have some newboards that I haven’t even used yet, but I’m going touse them here. They’re exact replicas of some old boardsI’ve had.
“I’m glad to see Rob win some events again,” Slateradded. “I’ll try to win this if Rob doesn’t (laughs).I’ve been interested in the ratings. Luke is up thereand Sunny has been maintaining. I’m glad I’m not upagainst either in the first rounds and hope I don’tsee them for awhile in this event.”
Dorian, rated sixth after the last WCT event in Portugal,was next on the microphone to offer a few words.
“Mathematically I’m in the (ratings) race, but it’snot likely,” he reasoned. “I’ll have to start greasingup Luke’s wax (laughs).
“It’s nice to have Kelly back,” he added. “And Benji(Weatherley) and Donovan (Frankenreiter – two additionalBillabong wildcards). It’s a perfect time of the yearto have everyone here at Trestles. Should be good.”
Current world champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus) then providedthe main entertainment for the evening, admitting tosurfing ‘Upper’ Trestles earlier in the week by mistake,as he had forgotten ‘Lowers’ was another couple of hundredyards further south along the beach, where the eventwill be contested.
“I haven’t surfed here a lot,” ‘Occy’ said. “The otherday I was surfing ‘Uppers’ and thought it was ‘Lowers'(laughs). I was going to ask this guy in the water,but never did. Then the next day I went with Luke (Egan)and he kept walking past where I’d been.”
When asked about how he sees his chances, the worldchamp responded to hysterical laughter with:
“If I find the spot for my heat….”
Current ratings leader Garcia, who has been out-in-frontsince winning back-to-back WCT events in Australia atthe start of the year, wasn’t really in a partying moodlast night. Despite showing up for the press conference,he wasn’t afraid to admit his main priority was to justmake it through the week and then return home to Hawaiiand recharge his batteries. A solid finish at Trestleswould obviously help his cause, but having lost thetitle race before after an early lead, Garcia was doinghis best to avoid too many media questions at this stageof the game.
“To tell the truth,” Garcia stated. “I’m looking forwardto next week and going home. I’ll do what I have todo, but I want to sleep in my own bed after four weeksof hell in France. I’m not worried about this event.
“Billabong brought Kelly here to spoil some thingsand we’ll have to deal with that when it comes,” hecontinued. “Having lead the ratings before and losttime and time again before the end, I never feel secure.There are three more events and I would like to winhere and get the title in Brazil, as all these guys(present at the press conference) could do it at Pipeline(last event in Hawaii). 1995 I felt secure and I stilllost it. I’m just going to go out and do my job.”
The event should be underway at 8am (local time) tomorrowmorning, conditions pending.
Upcoming Heats of the Billabong Pro Day One – WCTEvent #11
Heat 1: F Padaratz (Brz); D Wills (Aus); P O’Connell(USA)
Heat 2: M Occhilupo (Aus); R Rocha (Brz); K Malloy (USA)
Heat 3: J Paterson (Aus); S Powell (Aus); P Canning(SAfr)
Heat 4: S Dorian (Haw); T Curran (USA); A Irons (Haw)
Heat 5: T Burrow (Aus); F Gouveia (Brz); T Martin (Aus)
Heat 6: R Machado (USA); R Williams (Haw); C Hayes (Haw)
Heat 7: CJ Hobgood (USA); A Daltro (Brz); K Slater (USA)
Heat 8: S Garcia (Haw); R Lovett (Aus); D Frankenreiter(USA)
Heat 9: L Egan (Aus); M Lowe (Aus); B Weatherley (USA)
Heat 10: M Campbell (Aus); V Ribas (Brz); J Parkinson(Aus)
Heat 11: S Lopez (USA); B Emerton (Aus); R Winter (UK)
Heat 12: C Lopez (USA); T Knox (USA); G Ringrose (Aus)
Heat 13: N Webster (Aus); D Hobgood (USA); S Sutton(Haw)
Heat 14: G Herdy (Brz); T Prestage (Aus); B Bourgeois(USA)
Heat 15: L Hitchings (Aus); S Beschen (USA); G Emslie(SAfr)
Heat 16: K Robb (Haw); N Padaratz (Brz); Y Sodre (Brz)