Rip Curl Pro
SPC Fruit Pro
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia
March 21-April 1
Mick Fanning Heads To Bells Beach As Current World #1
When Australia’s Mick Fanning hits the water at Bells Beach this Easter to challenge for this year’s US$270,000 Rip Curl Pro title, he’ll be doing so as the current Foster’s ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) ratings leader, not as the relatively unknown 19-year-old he was when he won the contest in 2001.
Fanning won the opening event of this year’s WCT — the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast – just over one week ago and sits atop the current ratings ladder ahead of tour rookie Chris Ward (USA) and Australians Tom Whittaker and Trent Munro.
Coming into Bells this March, Fanning is the fittest and most focused he’s been at this time of year. He was forced to spend the entire second half of season 2004 (a total of seven WCT events) on the sideline after tearing his left hamstring off the bone during a free-surfing accident last July. Now fully recovered from the horrendous injury, Mick has returned to the water with a new lease of surfing life.
“I’m really focused on this year and the time off gave me a chance to think about a bunch of different things, said Fanning. “I’m looking forward to Bells. It’s is a really tricky spot and anything could happen, but I’m back in training and doing what I was doing before the first ‘CT event, so hopefully it’ll be all good.
The WCT win at the Gold Coast’s Snapper Rocks – his own backyard – marked a sensational return to competition surfing for Fanning and is an achievement Rip Curl International Team Manager Gary Dunne hopes propels him in the right direction for season 2005.
“Before his injury last year, Mick was widely touted as one of the very few surfers with the genuine ability to seriously challenge for the world championship, said Dunne. “Winning on the Gold Coast was a great demonstration that he’s fully recovered, and the way he won has signaled to the surfing world that he’s back, stronger and better than before.
Fanning will be arriving in Victoria this weekend to be present at the official Rip Curl Pro Media Launch, taking place at Melbourne’s Federation Square from 10am to 11am on Monday, March 21.
The Rip Curl Pro is Australia’s longest running professional surfing and holds a proud place in surfing folklore, stretching back to 1973. The Rip Curl Pro’s status as one of six Victorian Government-designated Hallmark Events each year, alongside the Melbourne Formula One and Phillip Island Motorcycle Grand Prix, the Australian Tennis Open, the Melbourne Cup and the AFL Grand Final, is an acknowledgment of its contribution the state’s rich sporting culture.
Rip Curl Pro / SPC Fruit Pro Media Launch Details
When: 10am-11am Monday, March 21
Where: Federation Square (ACMI: The Function Space),
Who: Mick Fanning, Jamie O’Brien, Andy Irons, Kelly Slater, Mark Occhilupo, Layne Beachley, Sofia Mulanovich, Jacqueline Silva