Kelly Slater

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” in 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.”

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Ghost ship in Padang Padang

Padang Padang's new resident shipwreck, the Ho Tsai Fa is now off the surfing reef and wedged into the rocks facing the surf break.

Daily physical efforts from Bali-based ROLE Foundation, GUS Foundation, Rip Curl, and a crew of volunteers have been concentrated on the low tides, the only time the ship is safely accessible on dry reef. The good news is most hazardous materials like oil, diesel, and loose bits of boat have been removed and hauled away.

Concerned divers have cleaned the underwater reef of fishing hooks, sharp gaffs, wires, nets, pieces of metal and other dangerous shrapnel from the wreck. The bad news is that the ship's 100 ft+ (33 m+) fiberglass frame could start breaking off at a faster rate with each new swell, further polluting the surrounding areas. Gaping holes are already ripped into the boat's bottom, meaning that any attempts to pull it off the reef would result in the ship sinking like a rock.

The offensive stench of the remaining fish and bait rotting in the ship's hold truly tests one's limits. Other fishy smells come from the crew that jumped to safety, way in advance, while the ship was set on a crash course for Bali. Apparently the ship had broken all contact for about a month before the wreck, its whereabouts and intentions unknown. Police are on the lookout for the crew.

As we know, the ship wrecked on the opening ceremony night for the Rip Curl Cup at Padang Padang late last Friday night, choosing its final berth not far below the judging tower and contest lookout.

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US Open of Surfing

The GO211 LIVE featuring the Honda Women’s U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’Neill hit the water this morning in glassy two-to-four (1 metre surf. This Association of Surfing Professionals World Qualifying Series 6-Star event played host to some of surfing’s finest female athletes, with top ASP Women’s World Tour and WQS seeds battling it out for the prized Honda U.S. Open of Surfing title.

Today’s competition witnessed ASP Dream Tour surfers Stephanie Gilmore (Tweed Heads, AUS), Sofia Mulanovich (Lima, PER) and Melanie Bartels (Makaha, HI) dominate the field of international competitors vying for the valuable ASP WQS ratings points towards qualification of the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour.

Gilmore and Mulanovich, both former U.S. Open Champions (2007 and 2006 respectively) looked hungry to tack another U.S. Open title on to their list of accomplishments, while Bartels is working feverishly towards her first victory here at the women’s ASP WQS 6-Star event.

Mulanovich issued the day’s highest single-wave score of a near-perfect 9.87 out of a possible 10 for a combination of big forehand hacks and stylish cutbacks in her Round of 48 heat. "There’s a couple of corners on the rights and the surf is really fun and rippable," Mulanovich said.

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