- 16 December 2008 | Surfing
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) will kick off the 2009 season with the O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro presented by Ron Jon. The ASP WQS 4-Star event will be held at Florida’s prized Sebastian Inlet from the new dates of January 12-18, 2009.
The 2009 ASP WQS season will play host to surfing’s finest up-and-coming competitors who are all vying for one of the top 15 positions on the series, qualifying them for the prestigious ASP World Tour the following year. O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro competitors will all look to start their season out on the right foot at Florida’s famed Inlet which is the East Coast’s biggest ASP WQS event.
"The O'Neill SI Pro Presented by Ron Jon is one of the most anticipated sporting events in Central Florida and draws spectators from all walks of life,” Mitch Varnes, Event Founder and president of Board Sports Management, said. “Besides the great ongoing support of major sponsors O'Neill, Ron Jon Surf Shop and Red Bull, the SI pro enjoys tremendous backing from the community, local media and, of course, East Coast surfers. Now, if we could only get Kelly to come back for the event."
Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach, CA), 23, will be one top seed in the event looking to kick-start his 2009 season with a solid result at the O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro. The explosive regular-footer finished 21st on the ASP WQS last year, missing qualification for the 2009 ASP Dream Tour by only a few places, making him even more hungry to qualify in 2010. Simpson excelled throughout the latter half of 2008 and is looking to pick up where he left off.
“I had an awesome back half of the year and I just want keep the momentum rolling,” Simpson said. I’m just going to keep focused on what I've been doing and work hard towards a win.”
The Huntington Beach native’s drive this year sparked by coming with in arm’s reach of qualifying for this year’s ASP Dream Tour have given him extra incentive going into the opening event in 2009. The dedicated competitor’s motivation combined with his impressive performance and valuable experience gained throughout the 2008 make him a serious contender for this year’s O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro title. Simpson will definitely be one to watch this year, especially since last year’s champion Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 23, may not compete in this year’s event.
“I’m motivated in whatever I’m doing, but it’s a fresh start and want come out guns firing,” Simpson said.
The O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro also marks the first of several events sponsored by the company. In addition to Florida based event, O’Neill has upgraded the O’Neill Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz, California from an ASP WQS 4-Star to a 6-Star Prime event. In addition to the beefed up Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz, O’Neill has also added the O’Neill Cold Water Classic Canada, also a 6-Star event, marking the first ASP event in the Nation’s history.
"O’Neill is excited to continue its support of the WQS and the amazing surfing coming out of the East Coast,” Steve Ward, Vice President of Marketing for O’Neill Clothing, said.” The O’Neill SI Pro is the biggest event on the East Coast, and a great way to kick off the 2009 WQS season."