ASP Awards Banquet To Be Held Saturday On The Gold Coast.

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) will crown their respective world champions for 2004 at a gala banquet this Saturday, February 26th, at Conrad Jupiters Casino on Australia’s Gold Coast.

The black tie function will be hosted by the Gold Coast for only the second time, and after the huge demand for tickets last year, ASP management made the decision to move the heralded night with the stars to the swank Conrad Jupiters venue.

ASP world champions in men’s, women’s, longboard and junior divisions will receive the accolades of their peers and attendant industry representatives as they are presented with prestigious champions’ trophies on stage during the evening.

A procession of limousines will deliver the world champions to a red carpet reception at the Casino’s entrance from 630pm, the awaiting media and fans acknowledging their arrival as the world champions are escorted into the ballroom.

In attendance at surfing’s glittering night will be the Top 45 rated men and Top 17 women, together with former world champions, industry heavyweights and select members of surfing and mainstream media.

Hawaiian surfer Andy Irons will be crowned champion of the Foster’s Men’s World Tour for the third consecutive time, while Peruvian superstar Sofia Mulanovich will take the nervous walk to the podium for the first time to be awarded the Women’s Title.

Despite astounding top-end standards of surfing prowess, both Andy and Sofia were runaway victors claiming their titles before their respective tours were completed. Sofia’s 2004 title campaign also succeeded in breaking Layne Beachley’s record setting stretch of six consecutive world crowns.

American two-time world champion Joel Tudor will receive the coveted longboard crown, while another Brazilian star in the making, Pablo Paulino will be crowned as the new ASP World Junior champion after his stunning win at North Narrabeen last month.

Presentations will also be made to the year-ending #1 ranked WQS surfers of their respective divisions. Brazilian Neco Padaratz has secured the top slot from the men’s WQS tour for the second consecutive year, while Australian Chelsea Georgeson displayed enormous potential in reaching for her future aspirations by finishing the year as #1 ranked WQS woman.

There will be several other major categories recognised and awarded on the night, including presentations to men’s and women’s WCT runner-ups — Gold Coaster Joel Parkinson and Hawaii’s Rochelle Ballard, Men’s and Women’s “Rookie of the Year awards, Most Improved WCT surfer, as well as special presentations for Service to the Sport and the annual Cultural Award.

The celebratory gathering will also launch the 2005 season, with a preview of the ‘dream’ tour venues featuring the sport’s superstars. With the waiting period for the first WCT of the Foster’s Men’s Tour season, the Quiksilver Pro presented by Boost Mobile, and the women’s Roxy Pro presented by Boost Mobile, both kicking off at Snapper Rocks three days later, the ASP’s surfing luminaries will be in attendance embracing and celebrating the exciting season ahead.

Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew

A TV news feed will be available Sunday at around 2pm (Qld time) Gateway via QTQ Gold Coast – full details to follow.