Kelly Slater starts 10th title challenge in Quiksilver Pro Australia

February 26, 2009 | Surfing

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.

But her last two attempts as a fully-fledged member of the ASP women’s world tour have been in vein, with the 21-year-old not quite living up to her 2005 feat.

In the 2008 Roxy Pro she finished a disappointing equal 9th, while in 2007 she placed equal fifth.

“I think I expected good results in the past few years,” said Gilmore. 

“It was a lot of factors, especially a lot of nerves. Last year I was a little overwhelmed with everything that goes in the wake of winning a world title. This year I’ve had a lot more time to take everything in and enjoy it.”

The Kingscliff star says she is determined to redeem her past two results at Snapper Rocks.

“This event is important to me because I’m making it one of my goals to go out and surf well.

“Though not having a good result here hasn’t affected my two world titles, but this time I’m treating it a little different. Winning on home turf has to be one of the best feelings in the world. Hopefully I’ll come out on top.”

Gilmore will face South African Rosanne Hodge and the winner of tomorrow’s Roxy Pro trials in round one of competition when the Roxy Pro Gold Coast commences.

Today’s press launch for the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro’s presented by LG Mobile kick starts the 2009 ASP world tour in what is shaping up to be an explosive year for the world’s top 45 male and 17 female surfers.

The 2009 ASP Top 45 will kick off this season’s Dream Tour at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, which boasts a waiting period from February 28 – March 11, 2009.

The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast is a mobile event, with Snapper Rocks serving as the primary venue, but utilizing nearby Duranbah Beach, Greenmount, Kirra, Burleigh Heads and as far north as Stradbroke Island should conditions call for it.

The event will incorporate the Roxy Pro Gold Coast pres. by LG Mobile, the opening event of the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour.