The 2014 ASP World Tour kicks off with the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast starting on March 1 at Australia’s Snapper Rocks. Locals, crowd favorites, and the 2012 and 2013 ASP world champions, Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning, will be hard to beat, but Kelly Slater and Taj Burrow are both multiple winners who have as good a chance for victory as any. It's a fantastic event and always guarantees an exciting start to a new year of professional surfing. As such, here's a highlight reel of the some of the best Quiksilver Pro moments in the last decade.
Where's Wardo?: Chris Ward burst on to the ASP World Tour by making a final in his very first event. Not toning down his act in, or out of, the water, his explosive and risky freesurfing-in-a-singlet approach was a real breath of fresh air.
Highlight: In his very first heat, Wardo showed no nerves and pulled off a couple of huge aerials before going on to take out Kelly Slater in the quarterfinal.
What they said: "Wardo! Oh my God, where do we start? This man surfed unlike any pro on tour since I don't even know when—maybe since they thought up man-on-man heats," wrote Surfing magazine.
Mick and Kerrzy's heat: At the time it was described as the best heat of performance surfing ever. Josh Kerr started out with a 9.9 and had Mick Fanning well and truly on the ropes before Fanning roared back to win in the final minutes. Kerr's last wave also featured a grab rail reverse nose pick maneuver, one of the first ever seen in competition.
Highlight: Mick's second wave, featuring a long tube and trademark carves performed under pressure to complete the comeback.
What they said: "Maybe the best, if not the best couple of turns I've ever seen on tour," said Kelly Slater on Kerr's last wave.
2007* There is an asterisk to this 2007 highlight, though, as the very next heat was perhaps even better:
Parko and Kirra: Storm surf and a gutted bank had threatened to turn the event from iconic to ironic. However, on the final day, with a solid 10-foot cyclone foot swell running and some bombs blasting down off the previously sand-choked Kirra, it turned into a truly memorable day of professional surfing.
Highlight: Mainly the semifinal featuring Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning, the two Cooly kids trading 10-foot drainers off Kirra Groyne in front of a huge crowd that couldn't lose.
What they said: "The crowd is awesome. There are so many people. Down here you don't really see it, but from the water you can see the crowd on the hill and all along Coolangatta and even down Kirra Point. I could hear them roaring … it was amazing," said Joel Parkinson.
Taj and the Quiksilver Pro: Taj won the first ever Quiksilver Pro at Snapper, way back in 2001, and he did it again in 2010, but in 2012 he was the form surfer from the very first heat. It was another victory, which again raised the perennial question: Is this the year for Taj's world title? The answer, sadly, was no.
Highlight: Taj's defeat of a rampaging Dane Reynolds.
What they said: “I’ve been going for the ASP world title for a while now. I don’t know what to say. I just want to surf my best and hope that the rest falls into place," said Taj Burrow.
The bird: The earlier rounds had seen fairly average conditions, but the final day saw perfect waves down at Kirra, the mythical wave that now breaks very infrequently. The finalists Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson both scored 10s, but it was Kelly who came out on top.
Highlight: Joel Parkinson took off on a perfect wave that would have won the final. However, Kelly had priority and so could take off on the wave and effectively kill Parko’s chances. As he did so, Parko flipped him the bird and the resultant photo would be the defining image of the event.
What they said: "It was a perfect wave and as he took off I was like, ‘You bastard,’ so I flipped him the bird. But that's competitive surfing—he had priority and he used it," said Parkinson.
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