Sebastian Inlet 

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.

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Kelly Slater 

Nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) has won the Billabong Pipeline Masters a record sixth time today. The victory is Slater’s sixth of the 11 event 2008 ASP World Tour season.

"It’s inexplicable,” Slater said of his win and banner season. “I’m just stoked. I wasn’t even worried about surfing the event, so to surf it and win and get that board (a Gerry Lopez designed surfboard trophy). I’ll cherish that for sure."

Slater has made the Pipeline Masters final 10 out of the 17 times he has entered the event winning in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999 and again today. His 2008 win comes nine years after he last clinched the Pipeline crown in ‘99.

“My season is all about nines,” Slater said. “Winning this event nine years later, I needed a 9th in the ninth event of the year to win my 9th ASP World title, it’s crazy."

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Joel Parkinson

Joel Parkinson (AUS) surfed a perfect heat to etch his name in the history books at the Billabong Pipeline Masters today. The current World No. 4 scored two perfect 10s to become the only surfer to earn a perfect 20 out of 20 heat total at Pipeline. Parkinson eliminated Vans Triple Crown front-runner Dusty Payne (HAW) in the process.

“I never thought I would get two perfect 10s,” Parkinson said. “It’s not something you hear about every day, so I’d never really thought about doing it. I definitely claimed it like I had won an event for a second, but then I had to settle down and tell myself, ’All you did was make a heat!’ The next heat I paddle out for, I’ll have to remember that."

Nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) is the only other surfer to score a perfect 20 out of 20. He did so in a 2005 final at Teahupoo, Tahiti to win the contest.

"Kelly did it in unreal fashion, mine was a just in a third round heat, but it’s at Pipe and it’s definitely something that when I grow old, I’ll think, ‘I did something in my career my name’s next to Kelly’s on that one,’" Parkinson said.

Parkinson finished fifth in Halewia and Sunset – the first two legs of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing – and with Nos. 1 and 2 Payne and C.J. Hobgood (USA) losing today, has a good chance to take it out.

"That was a big heat for the Triple Crown for sure,” Parkinson said. “I have to start thinking more about the Triple Crown now. I have to forget about those 10s and start surfing heats from now on and not get too ahead of myself."

Slater surfed his first heat since clinching ASP World Title No. 9 today and was not surprised by Parkinson’s performance earlier in the day.

“I’d expect Parko to be the guy to do that.” Slater said. “He is such a magnet and not every guy can get in sync like Parko does he gets on a roll and it gets scary. He will probably go on to win the Triple Crown judging from the heat he had today.”

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