COOLANGATTA, Queensland/Australia (Tuesday, February 16, 2010) – The 2010 ASP World Tour season is just weeks from commencing with the world's best surfers descending upon the idyllic coastal town of Coolangatta for the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover.
The opening event on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will be the first time such an assemblage of talent has congregated since December, and this year's ASP Top 45 are led by two of the region's finest.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, reigning two-time ASP World Champion, posted an inspired come-from-behind campaign in 2009 to claim his second ASP World Title (the first in 2007), and approaches this year focused on repeating the feat and setting up a dynasty within the annals of surfing history.
"I see the names of the multiple ASP World Title winners before me – guys like Tom Curren, Tom Carroll, Andy Irons, Mark Richards and obviously Slater – and it blows my mind to think that I have achieved two," Fanning said. "The second title was more fun to chase, 2007 was more intense because of the pressure I had put on myself. But they're both great for different reasons. My goal for 2010 is to keep the formula I had in 2009: maintain a healthy balance between work and play and most importantly enjoy my surfing and continue to progress."
While the fleet-footed Australian's juggernaut finish to the 2009 ASP World Tour was the talk of the sporting world, the ousting of his lifelong friend from the ASP World No. 1 position was an experiment in the depths of their relationship and ultimately a revealing look at the champion's unquestionable character.
"It's honestly still sinking in," Fanning said. "It was amazing to be in that race with Joel (Parkinson) last year but I doubt we'll be able to really understand just how huge it all was until we're a couple of old wrinkly men. Things sure got a little intense toward the end of last year but we just respected each other's need for space and played our own games. I know if we match up at any time in 2010 the rivalry is going to be intensified after last year but at the end of the day we'll be mates forever."
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, current ASP World No. 2 and defending event champion, lost a close ASP World Title race to good friend Fanning last season, and is back with a vengeance in 2010. Parkinson's fitness and competitive drive have never with sharper and his supernatural ability in the water will serve him well this season.
"It’s a new year and with how fast our sport is progressing you cannot afford to be held back by thoughts from previous years," Parkinson said. "But at the same time 2009 has given me added reasons to make 2010 all that I can. My approach is not that much different – it is about me working towards realizing the potential of my equipment, the conditions and of myself."
Despite the narrow loss to Fanning, Parkinson acknowledges the strength of their bond and understands that the competitive rivalry only serves to push the performance limits of both athletes.
"The competitive rivalry between Mick and myself has been there for years, everyone knows that," Parkinson said. "But in my mind, and I believe in Mick’s, our friendship comes first. Sometimes that is difficult but it in the end it is never hard."
Fanning and Parkinson are arguably two of the most knowledgeable and dangerous competitors at Snapper Rocks and will use their lifetimes of experience to their advantage at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.
"Obviously being a local has its advantages in the water," Fanning said. "You have a better understanding of the waves, you're comfortable with the sweep and you get solid time after the last event to warm up. The thing I love most about competing on the Gold Coast is the fact I get to go home after a heat and be with my family and my dog and sleep in my own bed."
"Knowing Snapper and what it brings is a huge advantage as it is with any venue," Parkinson said. "But it has been changing and improving a lot of late so hopefully I have been learning as we go along. But we will see in a few weeks."
In addition to featuring one of the most exciting crops of athletes the sport has ever seen, the 2010 ASP World Tour will also be activating a dynamic new change this season as the ASP Top 45 will be reduced to 32 following the fifth event of the year, further heightening the intensity of the opening event at Snapper Rocks.
"It's going to be extremely interesting to see how things unfold in the first event with the tour changes coming into play," Fanning said. "Rookies can't go into the Quiksilver Pro thinking they'll have chances to redeem themselves later in the year. I'm expecting more commitment and risk from the guys that have been hovering around the back end of the ratings the past few years. The changes were introduced to crack the whip on those dwelling toward the back of the ratings. If they don't step up, they'll lose their place to an eager pack of rookies. Myself and the others toward the top end of the ratings will need to be wary of those fighting for a Top 32 finish after the first five events."
The 2010 ASP Top 45 will see the addition of 11 rookies all battling to find a place amongst the best in the world.
"For me, Owen Wright is going to be the most lethal rookie," Fanning said. "He's very well-rounded in big and small waves, he's had ASP World Tour experience and he's a smart competitor. Other potential sprinters in my eyes are Dusty Payne, Matt Wilkinson and Adam Melling. All these kids are powerful, exciting, radical and capable of causing big upsets."
For Parkinson, his pick for the opening event of the season is not necessarily a new face, but after a one year sabbatical, former three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW), 31, will be back in the singlet and striking terror into the hearts and minds of the world's best surfers.
"Andy (Irons) is back but not sure you can classify him as a rookie?" Parkinson said. "I think all the rookies will be on their game come February 27."
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast pres. by Land Rover will feature the world's best surfers from February 27 through March 10, 2010 and will be webcast LIVE via quiksilverpro.com.au.
For more information, log onto aspworldtour.com.
2010 ASP WORLD TOUR SCHEDULE:
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, February 27 – March 10, 2010
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, March 30 – April 10, 2010
Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro, April 23 – May 2, 2010
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, July 15 – 25, 2010
Billabong Pro Teahupoo, August 23 – September 3, 2010
Hurley Pro Trestles, September 12 – 21, 2010
Quiksilver Pro France, September 25 – October 5, 2010
Rip Curl Pro Portugal, October 7 – 18, 2010
Rip Curl Pro Search, October 30 – November 10, 2010
Billabong Pipe Masters, December 8 – 20, 2010
2010 ASP WOMEN'S WORLD TOUR SCHEDULE:
Roxy Pro Gold Coast, February 27 – March 10, 2010
Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach, March 30 – April 5, 2010
TSB Bank Women's Surf Festival, April 11 – 16, 2010
Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic, April 21 – 26, 2010
Movistar Peru Classic pres. by Rip Curl, June 8 – 13, 2010
Rip Curl Pro Portugal, October 7 – 11, 2010
Rip Curl Pro Search, October 30 – November 4, 2010
Gidget Pro Sunset Beach, November 24 – December 6, 2010
Billabong Pro Maui (Tentative), December 8 – 20, 2010