ASP World Champions' Crowning

The world’s best surfers congregated at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre last night for the ASP World Champions’ Crowning.

Surfing’s “night of nights”, the ASP World Champions’ Crowning would prove an emotional evening, with a final farewell from a sporting icon and the acknowledgement of two surfing dynasties.

Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew (AUS), 54, will be stepping down from his post as ASP International President at the end of March, and last night’s ASP World Champions’ Crowning would prove a fitting farewell for the legendary sportsman. As Bartholomew finished a heart-warming diatribe chronicling the rise of professional surfing, the former world champion received a raucous standing ovation by the 600 strong in attendance.

Kelly Slater (USA), 37, reigning ASP World Champion, was awarded with a phenomenal ninth World Crown, and thanked his fellow athletes for pushing the high-performance boundaries of competitive surfing as well as announcing his intentions for a tenth ASP World Title campaign in 2009.

Other ASP World Tour athletes awarded last night were 2008 ASP World Tour Runner-Up Bede Durbidge (AUS), 25, Rookie of the Year Dane Reynolds (USA), 23, and a tie for ‘Most Improved’ with Adrian Buchan (AUS), 26, and Adriano de Souza (BRA), 22.

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 21, was both articulate and poignant in her acceptance speech for her second consecutive ASP Women’s World Title, and her professionalism, both in the water and in front of the microphone, was heralded by audience members throughout the evening.

Other ASP Women’s World Tour athletes awarded last night were 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour Runner-Up Silvana Lima (BRA), 24, Rookie of the Year Nicola Atherton (AUS), 22, and ‘Most Improved’ Melanie Bartels (HAW), 26.

Bonga Perkins (HAW), 36, and Joy Monahan (HAW), 22, took home the ASP World Longboarding and ASP Women’s World Longboarding Titles respectively, while Nathaniel Curran (USA), 24, and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18, received honors for ASP WQS No. 1 finishes in 2008.

Kai Barger (HAW), 19, and Pauline Ado (FRA), 18, were crowned ASP World Junior Champions and are now recognized as being leaders in the assault of the next generation.

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Stan Couper's wife Vi and daughter Gail 

Stan Couper was today posthumously inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame at Surf World, Torquay.

Vi Couper, Stan’s wife was on hand to accept the Inductee trophy along with daughter Gail and son Geoffrey. Stan Couper is the 31st Inductee into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame and now joins his daughter Gail Couper who was inducted in 2000.

1988 Australian Surfing Hall of Fame Inductee Wayne Lynch presented the trophy to Vi on behalf of the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame along with Gail Couper. Geoffrey Couper spoke on behalf of the family ‘offering his thoughts on his father and his love of surfing’. The induction ceremony was attended by a number of those who have had a bearing on the development of surfing including former Australian Surfing Association President Tony Olsen, Rip Curl’s Brian Singer amongst others.

Joe Sweeney who crafts the timber Induction trophy spoke about Stan’s passion not just for surfing but his love of other sports and the region. Also sharing his thoughts on Stan and his contribution to surfing was local legend and Inductee Wayne Lynch.

The induction of Stan Couper previews the upcoming Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame which is to be held on Tuesday 3rd March at the Stars Room at Twin Towns Services Club in Coolangatta. This awards ceremony is to recognize individuals and organizations that have made contributions to the surfing industry in a number of areas including performance, administration, culture, movies and photos.  These awards will also feature the induction of another “major contributor” to surfing.

The awards will also feature the presentation of the inaugural Stan Couper Administration Award and the Peter Troy Lifestyle Award.

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Kelly Slater 

Nine-time world champion Kelly Slater (Florida, USA) looks relaxed and confident heading into this weekend’s Quiksilver Pro presented by LG Mobile.

The defending Quiksilver Pro champion, who was on hand at Snapper Rocks today for the official press launch, declared he’ll almost certainly challenge for an unprecedented 10th ASP world title.

“I think I’m pretty relaxed about it,” said Slater.

“I’ll probably have a few nerves to start. But once you hit the water and start surfing you stop thinking about the big picture.”

“You’ve got to focus on every heat, every wave and every manoeuvre. You really have to break it down to the small details, as they’re the things that win big heats. The big heats are usually close, so you’ve got to be aware of what’s happening around you – It’s a big part to the preparation!”

The reigning world title holder will open his campaign against Byron Bay ace Kieren Perrow (Aus) and the lowest seeded trials wildcard in round one of the season-opening ASP men’s World Tour event.

Recently retired world tour surfer Danny Wills (Byron Bay, Aus) and rising star Julian Wilson (Coolum, Aus), who joined Slater along with 2007 world champion and local star Mick Fanning (Coolangatta, Aus) for the day’s launch, have been awarded main event wildcards into the prestigious tournament.

The third and final wildcard will be granted to the winner of tomorrow’s Quiksilver Pro Trials to be staged in conjunction with the Roxy Pro Trials.

Two-time ASP women’s world champion Stephanie Gilmore (Kingscliff, Aus) will be looking to put successive bad results at the opening event of the year behind her, in her bid for a hat trick of world crowns.

Gilmore shot to fame as a 17-year-old schoolgirl in 2005 when she was the youngest surfer to win the Roxy Pro.

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