Where the Hell is Rip Curl Taking us in 08`?

For the fourth season in a row, the Rip Curl Pro Search event will throw a curveball at the world's best surfers, offering the ASP Top 45 a never-before-competed-at Dream Tour venue.

Stop No. 6 of 11 on the 2008 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search will once again pit the best surfers on the planet at a location that has never before hosted an ASP event. Previous Rip Curl Pro Search venues have included St. Leu on Reunion Island (2005), "La Jolla" mainland Mexico (2006) and El Gringo in Chile's port town of Arica (2007), but 2008's venue has been kept secret from the public at large.

Kelly Slater (USA), eight-time ASP World Champion and current ratings leader on the ASP World Tour, has been in staggering form this season, collecting four victories in five events (Gold Coast, Bells Beach, Tavarua and Jeffreys Bay), and will be the man to beat at the Rip Curl Pro Seach.

"I'm really relaxed," Slater said. "My life is really good personally and professionally. There's nothing side-tracking me and nothing in the way. I've got to take the same approach that I took at the start of the year, which is not being preoccupied, and just focus on what's happening right now and how do I maximize that."

The brilliant natural-footer has yet to be defeated by any of his fellow ASP Top 45 members in 2008, his only loss being at the hands of wildcard Manoa Drollet (PYF) at the Billabong Pro Teahupoo. "It's good for me because it puts all of the pressure on other peoples' shoulders," Slater said. "Winning in South Africa has put an immense amount of pressure on those guys, but No. 9 is still a long ways off."

Mick Fanning (AUS), reigning ASP World Champion, is sitting No. 4 on this season's ASP World Tour ratings following his runner-up finish at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, but knows he has to make up some ground at the Rip Curl Pro Search if he is to have any chance at defending his ASP World Title.

"I will be going to the Rip Curl Search giving it my all," Fanning said. "I think if Kelly wins another event, the race for the ASP World Title will be pretty much over. Whoever is going to give him a run will have to start winning events."

Andy Irons (HAW), current ASP World No. 8 and two-time past champion of the Rip Curl Pro Search event (2006, 2007), has proven time and again that he is the form surfer on tour in unfamilar conditions and will look to make it a three-peat at this season's venue.

"It's an even playing field because most people haven't surfed those spots before," Irons said. "In the beginning of the year, there are always rumors of where the Search event will be, so it's always fun to finally get the real scoop on the venue, and the next step, if I hadn't been there in the past, (like Chile) is talking to people who have been there before to mentally prepare.

When the Rip Curl Pro Search events are happing there is an exciting, competitive, nervous feeling in the air. You can see it in all of the competitors." Bede Durbidge (AUS), current No. 3 on the ASP World Tour, is another who embraces the changing venue of the Rip Curl Pro Search and is excited to get the 2008 event underway.

"I think it's awesome how Rip Curl change the location of their Search event each year," Durbidge said. "I get so excited to hear where it's going to be and I'm sure all the other surfers do too. It's the only event on tour that changes every year and that's what all surfers want to do is surf new locations around the world. So we're really lucky to have the Search event on the calendar each year."

The waiting period for the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Seach begins on July 30, 2008 and extends through to August 10, 2008. The event will be webcast LIVE via aspworldtour.com. For more info, log onto aspworldtour.com


Rabbit enters the Surfing Hall of Fame

Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, influential tube rider, Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) president, former world champion and star of Bustin’ Down the Door receives a long overdue honor when he joins the 2008 Surfers’ Hall of Fame at 10 a.m. Friday, July 25 in front of Huntington Surf & Sport (corner of PCH and Main).

Rabbit will be immortalized along with Brad Gerlach, Mike Parsons and Sean Collins. The ceremony coincides with the final weekend of the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing.

Born on Nov. 30, 1954 in Coolangatta, Queensland Australia, Bartholomew has lived a life most only dream of. A true “rags-to-riches” story, Rabbit grew up around the fabled point breaks of Australia’s Gold Coast with legends Michael “MP” Peterson and Peter “PT” Townend as sparring partners. He began surfing at Snapper Rocks, but the story starts when he moved to Kirra at age 13.

Rabbit became synonymous with Kirra, and some argue that, thanks to his formative years at the famed Gold Coast point break, no one in the world has logged more tube time than he has. By the early '70s, he was cleaning house on the Australian circuit, clashing with hometown rivals Townend and Peterson.

Rabbit burst onto the international scene in the winter of 1975. A few years earlier, he had made his first visit to Hawaii’s North Shore, an annual pilgrimage he hasn't missed since. That winter, the status quo was rocked by the surfing of Shaun Tomson, Mark Richards, Ian Cairns, Townend, Rabbit and a few others.

Hawaii was no longer the exclusive domain of locals; the crew had, in Rabbit's words, "busted down the door”; a journey which is chronicled in the documentary Bustin’ Down the Door, premiering in Huntington Beach on July 23.

Professional surfing was still a dream in those days, but Rabbit had the vision and the personality to sell it. His tactics, confidence and flair made him a top-rate competitor for professionalism's first decade. The lightning-quick natural-footer was crowned world champion in 1978, remained in the top five for seven consecutive years and came within a whisker of regaining the title in 1983.

“Bugs” was the first individual to file a tax return under the guise of "professional surfer." Unfortunately, the department promptly sent it back, saying there was no such thing.

After retiring from the professional circuit in the late 1980's, Wayne dedicated himself to furthering the development of surfing. He established the Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew Surfing Academy and with good friends Peter and Lorraine Bryant set up the Rabbit Circuit, a mini tour which helped fill the void following the collapse of the Australian Professional Surfing Association Pro-Am series.

The circuit became a forerunner to today's Australian Championship Circuit, a stepping stone to the world tour for the surfing champs of the future.

In 1993, Wayne became national coaching director for Surfing Australia, the sports national governing body. With the title came the responsibility for the then brand new Australian Championship Circuit, liaising with the ASP to establish an Australian leg of the world tour. In March 1999, Rabbit was appointed to surfing's plum post - president and chief executive officer of the ASP - overseeing the multi-million dollar world tour.

Rabbit remains an avid surfer and in October 1999, proved he is as talented and competitive as ever by winning the ASP Grand Masters title in France, a feat he repeated in 2003. Bartholomew remains a strong grassroots connection to the sport through his role as president of his beloved Snapper Rocks Surfriders, Australia's most successful boardriding club.

He has served as mentor for Gary Elkerton, Chappy Jennings, Sunny Garcia and his own adopted son, 1998 World Junior Champ Dean Morrison. Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew had a dream; he wanted to surf every day for the rest of his life, and he wanted to get paid to do it.

In the days before any World Championship Tour, when contests were sparse, prize money barely covered fuel costs, and surfers were little more than social outcasts, the man they affectionately call Bugs was laying down a mental blueprint for the future. He saw legitimate careers in surfing and no one could tell him otherwise. And today’s generation of pros owe him a debt of gratitude.

“Rabbit is a World Champion; a true pioneer of Professional Surfing,” said Aaron Pai, Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder. “Rabbit is ‘the Man!’ Come watch Rabbit bust down our door, this coming Friday at 10am!”

The Surfers’ Hall of Fame inductees are selected by a committee of business owners, surfers and surf industry professionals based on contribution, dedication, integrity and revolution to the sport of surfing. The Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony is open to the public, free-of-charge.



Kelly Slater takes J-Bay, That's 4!

JEFFREYS BAY, South Africa (Thursday, July 17, 2008) – He’s done it again. Eight-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) beat reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) today to win the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, earn his 38th ASP World Tour victory and claim the fourth event on the 2008 ASP World Tour.

“I didn’t realize I was going to be overwhelmed by it, but I haven’t been in this position before, at this point of the year, with this many wins,” Slater said. “There are great things going on in my life so I’m just trying to soak it up and be appreciative.”

Surfing his 14th season on the ASP World Tour, Slater is still the only member of the Top 45 to win an event this season. The one tournament Slater lost was won by an event wildcard. He now has a 1262 point lead on World No. 2 Joel Parkinson and is in commanding contention to claim his 9th ASP World Title.

“I’ve put a lot of years in obviously, it’s been my life on so many levels for so long, in a way I was trying to pull back from it, but also I do love it,” Slater said. “I get a lot of enjoyment out of competing because competing really pushes your level. The best performances in the world are on tour.”

Slater beat Fanning 16.73 to 9.40 in the Billabong Pro Final. While conditions early this morning were clean and six foot (two metre), onshore winds made the semifinal and final tricky.

“It was really challenging,” Slater said. “You really have to change your frame of mind because we were looking at waves the other day where we were getting 30-45 second rides and doing six to eight maneuvers and now we’re looking at waves where if you get three moves it’s a good score. It’s really hard to change your perception on how you are going to surf a wave. I didn’t really catch on until the very end of that heat when I realized I could get a three move wave and probably seal it.”

With six events remaining, there is still a possibility the title could be clinched by another surfer on the ASP World Tour roster, but the probability that will happen is small – something Slater’s competition knows all too well.

“I’d like to think I have it the bag but I have to be realistic, it’s early on – we’re not quite half way yet,” Slater said. “We have 11 events this year and this is number five. Last year at this point I was looking at Mick [Fanning] that way. He had a first, a couple seconds and a third so I’d imagine being on the same side of that coin and looking at someone with four firsts and a throwaway is probably tough to look at.”

Only one member of the Top 45, Taylor Knox, is older than Slater. At 36, Slater already owns the title of youngest and oldest ASP World Title winner. He won his last World Title at age 34 in 2006.

“When I was a kid I would never have imagined a guy who is 36 winning four events on tour, let alone having a chance at the world title, so I’m just trying to soak that up,” Slater said.

Fanning was understandably disappointed to lose his second final of the year to Slater – the two met in the final of the first event of the year on the Gold Coast of Australia too.

“I surfed like an idiot,” Fanning said. “I had the opportunity to win the whole thing and I fell and I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened, I just had a shocker. I was feeling great, I just couldn’t stay on my board.”

Fanning, who was hoping to defend his ASP World Title this year can’t help but take a defeatist’s look at the 2008 title race.

“I guess it’s not over ‘till it’s over, but it’s like climbing Everest and he’s halfway up the bloody hill,” Fanning said.

Fanning moved to 4th with his second place result at Jeffreys Bay. He beat last year’s World No. 2 and the defending Billabong Pro Champion Taj Burrow (AUS) in the semifinals. Burrow now sits 5th on the ratings.

“I’m pretty disappointed,” Burrow said. “Mick just wave-ed me to death basically. He picked the absolute best waves and must have surfed them pretty well because he got a 9.00. I got really crap waves and tried my guts out to try to do some turns and throw airs but it was just really choppy and hard. I needed to be more patient really.”

Burrow, like most of his compatriots, shares Fanning’s sentiments on Slater’s victory today.

“Kelly wins another final, enough said, unbelievable.” Burrow said. “The door is really closing as far as I can see it. He’s got a ridiculous amount of keepers now so… how many events left? Not enough!”

Slater beat Parkinson in a close semifinal en route to the final. He stays in 2nd on the leaderboard with the result.

“Conditions really deteriorated but I had my chances but I let one or two waves go that I probably shouldn’t have I could have got my scores on them,” Parkinson said. “It’s hard to tell because you stand up on a wave and it looks like it’s going to be a piece of crap and it turns into a good wave or you stand up on a wave that looks good and it turns into a piece of crap. That’s the nature of the game.”

The next event on the 2008 ASP World Tour remains undisclosed. The “Search” event will be held July 30-August 10, 2008, “Somewhere.”

For more details visit www.aspworldtour.com and www.billabongpro.com.

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Final Results:
Final: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.73 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 9.40

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.00 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.17
Heat 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.84 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.83

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.74 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.00
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.17 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.84
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.27 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 9.60
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) def. Andy Irons (HAW)

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Round 4 Results:
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.44 def. Bruce Irons (HAW) 13.33
Heat 6: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.76 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 10.33
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 17.00 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.76
Heat 8: Andy Irons (HAW) 11.34 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 5.23

ASP World Tour Ratings after Stop No. 5 – the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 5210 points
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 3948 points
3. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 3782 points
4. Mick Fanning (AUS) 3753 points
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 3638 points
6. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 3540 points
7. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 3460 points
8. Andy Irons (HAW) 3338 points
9. Bobby Martinez (USA) 3028 points
10. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 2884 points


Ghost Ship Crashes Bali Surf Contest!

AN ILLEGAL fishing ship whose captain is rumoured to have been murdered has thrown plans for the World Surfing Championship in Bali into chaos by running aground on the island's best surf break.
Mystery surrounds the arrival of the Taiwanese vessel Ho Tsai Fa No. 18 off Padang Padang beach. Locals woke on Saturday to see the 30-metre-long vessel foundering on a reef, and reaped a barbecue bonanza by emptying its holds of tuna and shark.
Police are still trying to find the boat's Indonesian crew and its Taiwanese captain, Tsai Wen-chen. Taiwanese authorities had requested Indonesia's assistance to locate the boat several weeks ago after it failed to return from a fishing trip off Papua.
Three weeks ago it was spotted by another Taiwanese vessel but sped away when approached, prompting concern it had been taken over by a mutinous crew.
Fishery officials said the Ho Tsai Fa's monitoring system had been turned off since May 13, and it had refused to answer radio messages. Several Balinese said the ship's dozen Indonesian crewmen had thrown their captain overboard and tried to return home, but had lost control of the vessel approaching Bali and fled after it foundered.
In May, Greenpeace intercepted the ship illegally fishing with long lines in the Pacific.
Central Java's coast guard chief, Sutrisna, said a search was under way for the crew members. He would not comment on allegations the captain had been murdered. "We have just found the ship - we cannot say or conclude anything till we investigate further," Commissioner Sutrisna said.
Bali's coast guard chief, Oka Eswara, said attempts to refloat the vessel had been foiled by the weather and tides. "We have notified the Taiwanese embassy to assist, but we simply have to wait until the weather permits," he said.
The accident threatens to disrupt the return of the World Surfing Championship to Bali after an 11-year absence. The event is scheduled to take place next month, but organisers have not announced it for security reasons.
It is also disrupting the Rip Curl Cup, the Indonesian championship, scheduled to be held at Padang Padang this week.