Layne Beachley 

Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion and current No. 3 on the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour ratings, has officially announced her retirement from full-time competition, effective at the end of the year.

“I feel like now is a really good time, even though I am in my career best form, because I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl and to achieve the goals I set for myself in surfing, I have to give it my all and I’m not,” Beachley said. “I have to be honest with myself – I’m not commiting 100% time and energy and effort and focus into winning world titles. It doesn’t mean that I can’t win world titles, but my priorities are beginning to shift and my focus and my passion in business and charity work and my ambassador roles is beginning to have more appeal to me than competing for a living. I feel like I’ve achieved everything that I’ve wanted to and that it is good to go out while I’m still in top form.”

Beachley’s announcement comes as a surprise to the surfing community, given that the iconic natural-footer is surfing better than ever and currently challenging for the ASP Women’s World Title once again, sitting in No. 3 spot on the ratings at present.

“I feel like I’m surfing the best I have in my whole career,” Beachley said. “Nothing has really changed on tour except for my attitude. It’s my lack of commitment to winning. I base my choices off my experiences and my experience has told me that you have to be 100% focused and also love you’re doing. Even though I love what I do, I’m beginning to love what I’m doing out of the water more. My passion for competitive surfing has been diluted, and to achieve success and to win world titles, you can’t afford for it to be diluted too much. So now I’ve had to make a decision and I’m convinced I’m doing the right thing.’

The Sydney-sider is the most accomplished female surfer in the history of the sport, winning a record seven ASP Women’s World Titles (1998-2004, 2006), scalping 29 elite tour victories, and collecting countless accolades as one of surfing’s most recognizable figures.

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CJ Hobgood 

Former ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood (USA) defeated Joel Parkinson (AUS) in three-foot (one meter) barreling waves at the Billabong Pro Mundaka to claim his first ASP World Tour victory in four years today.

The heat was a déjà vu affair of a 2004 final they shared in Japan with Hobgood garnering a last minute win over Parkinson in the dying seconds of the heat.

“If I was Joel I would want to kill me right now,” Hobgood said. “I honestly don’t know how that happened. Some things are just meant to be. I’ve had a very difficult year. I probably struggled with my surfing more than I should have, but that’s life. You get older and life throws curve balls at you and that’s what makes this feeling right now so good.”

Despite opening the heat with a near-perfect 9.93, Hobgood was trailing Parkinson by 5.90 points with 15 seconds to go. With a set approaching, Parkinson took the first wave in an effort to increase his lead. Hobgood snuck into a small barrel on the wave behind it, earned an 8.57 and won the heat.

“Me and Joel were looking at that last wave and he was thinking about it hard,” Hobgood said. “I just made sure he was going to go or I was going to go. I didn’t know there was another one behind it, but I did hear a couple of whistles and turned around and saw the wave. I knew it was my last chance. I put my head down and didn’t even look at the wave and paddled to the shoulder as hard as I could because I didn’t want to get stuck behind it. I saw Joel in the peripheral and just threaded the needle. I could have been a little bit greedier, but I knew if I got a barrel and rode the rest of the wave I’ve have a good chance.”

Hobgood moves to ASP World No. 6 with the result today. Parkinson moves to ASP World No. 3. The final was Hobgood’s second this season – he lost to Slater in Fiji – and Parkinson’s first.

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Kelly Slater, 9 times ASP World Champion

Kelly Slater, 36, has won a record ninth ASP World Title after advancing out of Round 3 of the Billabong Pro Mundaka – the ninth event of 11 on the 2008 ASP World Tour. Slater came into the event needing an equal ninth finish to clinch the title, he secured that by beating local wildcard Eneko Acero (EUK) in four foot waves at Mundaka this morning.

“It’s going to take a little while to sink in,” Slater said when mobbed at the water’s edge. “I’m probably going to have to call home and talk to family for it to really hit me.”

Slater’s 2008 crowning comes 16 years after securing his first ASP World Title at age 20. He is the oldest and youngest surfer in ASP history to win a world title. The now nine-time ASP World Champion joined the tour in 1991 and won his first ASP World Title in 1992.

When asked if he had ever dreamed about achieving such a feat when he came onto the scene 17 years ago, Slater was close to speechless.

“I never even thought about it,” Slater said. “It never even popped into my head. It’s crazy.”

Despite entering his 14th year on tour already the owner of most every accolade in professional surfing, 2008 has been a banner year for Slater. With five wins in the first seven events of the year, a second place finish at the last event in France and a Round 4 berth at the Billabong Pro Mundaka later today, Slater is on track to post his most successful season to date. Slater’s winning average in 2008 is 89 percent at present.

“I felt a lot more at ease this year,” Slater said. “It’s probably my personal life. That’s the biggest change in my life. I’m happy and settled and I’ve got the support there that just feels amazing. Nothing else has really changed, I’ve worked with my boards a little bit here and there and I’ve always worked on my mind and my emotions, but something just really clicked into place this year.”

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