Ratings Battle Resumes At Quiksilver Pro Japan

Quiksilver Pro Japan
Live webcast on www.quiksilver.com


Competition window: Wednesday 31 August — Wednesday 7 September, 2005
Prizemoney: US$270,000

Ratings Battle Resumes At Quiksilver Pro Japan

Tuesday 23 August 2005. Sydney, Australia: The surfing world is focused on the resumption of the battle of the big guns when the Quiksilver Pro Japan starts next week.

After three wins from six ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) events this year, six-time world champion Kelly Slater (Florida, USA) is leading the ratings with 5,342 points — 746 points ahead of current world champion Andy Irons (Hawaii, USA, 4,596 points) as he shoots for an unprecedented seventh world title.

Australians are holding down the next three rankings with Trent Munro (Scotts Head, NSW, 4,286 points) in third, Mick Fanning (Tweed Heads, NSW, 4,230 points) fourth and Joel Parkinson (Coolangatta, Qld, 3,732 points) fifth. In his rookie year, Hawaiian Fred Patacchia is in sixth place with 3,628 points. Fanning has won two WCT events this year, and Munro has taken out the other one.

Slater, who is in his best form since his return to the tour in 2002 after a three-year break following his string of titles, said he was excited about going to Japan to try to get another good result: “I am in a strong place right now and if I can better my nearest couple of guys I would then be in a really solid place for the remainder (of the tour), he said.

The US$270,000 Quiksilver Pro Japan is the seventh of 11 events on this year’s Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour and a win carries 1,200 points and US$30,000 prizemoney. A surfer’s best eight results will count towards his final ranking.

The tour is entering its most grueling leg of the year with three back-to-back events in different countries — the Quiksilver Pro Japan, the Boost Mobile Pro presented by Quiksilver (at Trestles, California, USA), and the Quiksilver Pro France. ASP President Wayne “Rabbit Bartholomew said these three events will have a huge bearing on the title race.

“To my mind, Chiba in Japan offers no distinct advantage to anyone, Bartholomew said. “If the swell is small to medium, the break at Hebara offers a shifting peak, with some sets favouring the left, and some swell directions favouring the right. It is a matter of linking the various sections so as to maximize scoring potential.

Bartholomew said in these conditions the tour surfers who shine on beachbreaks will be very dangerous: “This brings into play the entire Brazilian contingent and aerial specialists such as Cory Lopez plus CJ and Damien Hobgood. The top guys have to be on their game or they can get clobbered by guys who have mastered small beachbreaks, such as Tim Curran and even the Japanese wildcards, he said.

Top Japanese surfer Masatoshi “Mar Ohno has already been awarded a wildcard, along with American sensation Dane Reynolds. Further top-level Japanese surfers will come into the main event from the Quiksilver Japan Trials, which will be held at Hebara Beach on Tuesday 30 August.

Kelly Slater, for one, said Mar Ohno shouldn’t be underestimated: “He has the wildcard again and can be dangerous if he loosens up and just surfs, Slater said. “It’ll be interesting to see if he gets on a roll and gives a real run like he did against Andy Irons in Niijima two years ago.

Last year the Quiksilver Pro Japan window was moved into the typhoon season in September and the event scored a classic 2-2.5 metre (six to eight foot) swell.

Bartholomew said that if a typhoon swell again delivers its payload, the reefbreak of Malibu will see the big boys dominating affairs.

“This is a world class wave offering a long bowling ride with barrel sections, so one would assume J-Bay form would hold true. I do think, of all events on the Foster’s Men’s World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro Japan is wide open, it really depends on what’s served up in the waiting period and who is on the wave magnet program.

Three-time world champion Andy Irons has yet to post a win this year, even though he’s made two man-on-man finals.

“Two finals is a pretty good start to the first half of the year. It would have been nice to get a first but I’ll take second all year if that’s what it takes, Irons said.

“With these next three contests, guys like Mick (Fanning) can do really well in Japan and Trestles and he’s already won two himself, so I can see him being a major threat. And Parko (Joel Parkinson) finally rid himself of his ninth place curse when he made the quarters (in event #6 at Jeffreys Bay) and once that guy gets on a roll he’s a major threat always. Between those two and with Kelly being on a freakshow roll right now, those three guys are going to be the ones to look at.

Quiksilver will be doing live webcasts of the next three ASP WCT events on www.quiksilver.com and www.aspworldtour.com*
Quiksilver Pro Japan. 31 August — 7 September* *
Boost Mobile Pro presented by Quiksilver. 13-18 September * *
Quiksilver Pro France. 23 September — 2 October