Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)World Championship Tour (WCT)
Most Crucial Ratings’ Event In ASP History
Sunset Beach, Hawaii (Friday, November 23) The upcoming US$250,000 Rip CurlCup at Hawaii’s legendary Sunset Beach, from November 26 to December 7, willshowcase one of the most crucial ratings’ events in ASP’s history. As thefinal World Championship Tournament (WCT) of 2001, not only is the worldtitle race still wide open, but virtually every position within the upperechelon is yet to be decided, leaving many WCT hopefuls in limbo until thecontest concludes.
Making matters even more exciting at Sunset this year will be there-introduction of a man-on-man format and the use of jet skis. Not since1988 have only two surfers shared the lineup at this venue in competition,and with the bonus of high powered watercraft towing competitors back outafter rides, more waves will be ridden and less time wasted paddling.
ASP President/CEO Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew, the 1978 World and 1999 GrandMasters Champion, summed up the anticipated start of the Rip Curl Cupperfectly.
“This is definitely one of the most crucial events in ASP history,” saidBartholomew. “Never before have there been so many contenders for the worldtitle, or so many mathematical variables affecting the outcomes of thoseneeding to qualify for the 2002 WCT.
“It’s really good there have been some solid swells leading up to the RipCurl Cup at Sunset,” he added, in respect to the large surf Hawaii hasexperienced the past couple of weeks. “It’s a wave that requires tuninginto. The jet ski assist will really help to utilize the break and maximizethe surfing potential.”
Nine (9) surfers – four Australians, three mainland Americans and twoHawaiians – remain in contention for the 2001 ASP world crown. Given thisvenue hasn’t hosted the world-title-deciding competition for more than adecade, room for upsets and unpredictability are greater than ever.
The contenders, in current ratings order, are:(1) CJ Hobgood (USA-FL), 22-years-old;(2) 1999 World Champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus), 35-years-old;(3) Cory Lopez (USA-Florida), 24-years-old;(4) Taylor Knox (USA-CA), 30-years-old;(5) Defending world and event champion Sunny Garcia (Haw), 31-years-old;(6) 2001 Van’s Triple Crown leader Andy Irons (Haw), 23-years-old;(7) Jake Paterson (Aus), 28-years-old;(8) Danny Wills (Aus), 26-years-old;(9) Shane Powell (Aus), 29-years-old
A brief summary of the Rip Curl Cup results needed by the nine contendersfor their greatest world title chances are as follows:
? Wills, Powell, Garcia and Irons need to win the Rip Curl Cup to have anyworld title hopes, but if Hobgood makes the semi-finals, Wills and Powellare out of the world title running.
? Paterson needs a 1st or 2nd place finish, while a 3rd placing or betterfor Knox keeps his world title hopes alive – both needing Hobgood to placethird or lower.
? Occhilupo and Lopez can claim the world title with a finals berth, againpending Hobgood’s Sunset placing. If Hobgood finishes second at Sunset,Lopez can’t overtake his fellow Floridian, but Occhilupo can claim hissecond world title by winning the Rip Curl Cup.
Irons, 23, who earlier this week won the final World Qualifying Series (WQS)of the season at nearby Haleiwa, currently leads this year’s prestigiousVan’s Triple of Surfing ratings. The Hawaiian has been in exceptional form,and together with the fact he placed 3rd at Sunset in 2000, has createdadded attention his way.
“I’ll just be taking it heat by heat,” explained Irons. “Everyone is surfinggood, so I’m just going into Sunset psyched and won’t be holding anythingback.”
Along with the world title chase, there’s the intense secondary battle amongthe world’s Top 45 surfers hoping to secure their places in the Top 29 ofthis year’s ratings and re-qualify for 2002. The mathematical possibilitieswithin the ratings ensure more drama, but after each day of competition thescenario will become clearer, as surfers are eliminated.
Of note, however, is the addition of Beau Emerton (Aus) and Victor Ribas(Brz) in the draw. Despite failing to re-qualify for the 2001 WCT, Emertonis virtually guaranteed of a start in 2002 after being granted world #3 RobMachado’s (USA) spot in the Rip Curl Cup. Machado, 28, who missed an eventearlier in the season due to a broken bone in his hand, last week welcomedthe birth of his and wife Patou’s first child – daughter Rose, and will notcontest the final event. He will now fail to re-qualify for the 2002 WCT,while in an unprecedented situation, Emerton most probably will, followingthe good results he has already secured this season as an alternate.Meanwhile, Ribas is replacing Mick Campbell (Aus), who was forced towithdraw due to a recent back injury, and also faces the possibility ofslipping outside of the top 29.
Adding even more unpredictability to the whole scenario, the 48-man Rip CurlCup field will feature three wildcard entrants. One is Mick Fanning (Aus),with the others being the top two place getters from the 32-man Rip Curl CupTrials.
Fanning, 20, who last week took out the 2001 World Qualifying Series (WQS)crown, following his runner-up placing to Irons at Haleiwa, will use theopportunity as further warm-up to his rookie season on the WCT. TheAustralian will face Lopez and current #29 Shane Dorian (Haw) in round one.
“Yeah, I’m psyched and I can’t wait,” said Fanning. “I’m going to have a lotof fun and just enjoy myself.”
Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA), who recently announced hisreturn to fulltime competition on the 2002 WCT, tops the list of trialists.A group of selected Sunset Beach specialists and emerging young surfers fromaround the world fill the remaining spots.
Another remarkable aspect of the Rip Curl Cup is the eight (8) brother actsfilling up 16 spots within the trials and main event. Included are CJ andDamien Hobgood (USA), Andy and Bruce Irons (Haw), Cory and Shea Lopez (USA),Jake and Paul Paterson (Aus), Flavio and Neco Padaratz (Brz), Shane andGavin Beschen (USA), Derek and Michael Ho (Haw), as well as Liam and GarretMcNamara (Haw).
The Rip Curl Cup boasts a 12-day waiting period in which only four fullcompetition days are required.