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News provided by ASP World Tour on 23 February 2006

While seven-time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion Kelly Slater (USA), three-time champion Andy Irons (HAW) and world number three and last year’s event victor Mick Fanning (AUS) will headline next week’s Quiksilver Pro to be held at Snapper Rocks in Queensland Australia, there will be huge interest in the 10 new faces who will be taking on the top tier surfing tour in 2006 for the first time.

Never has there been such an influx of new blood to the ranks and many expect the standard of surfing on the tour to be pushed to incredible new heights.

The 10 new faces include, Adriana de Souza (BRA), Bobby Martinez (USA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Shaun Cansdell (AUS), Pedro Henrique (BRA), Roy Powers (HAW), Pancho Sullivan (HAW), David Weare (ZAF), Mikael Picon (FRA) and Jarrad Howse (AUS).

All have made the cut after competing on the second tier ASP World Qualifying Series.

Sullivan, who turns 33 in 2006, is the oldest rookie ever to gain entry to surfing’s elite and given he has been labelled by many as one of the best power surfers in the world, this, mixed with the maturity to remain collected and focussed, should see him give the Quiksilver Pro and the 2006 ratings race an almighty shake.

“I think good surfing never gets old,” said Sullivan. “I’ve been very fortunate to travel as a freesurfer through my ‘junior’ years and I managed to see a lot of places that I’ve always dreamed about going to. Now I have an opportunity to satisfy some of my competitive urges. It’s not something that I want to do forever but I want to give it a good go while my surfing is still at its peak.”

While being well above the average age of the tourers, Sullivan still possesses “grommet-like” enthusiasm, and while he is looking forward to competing with the best of the best his face lights up when he thinks of surfing some of the best waves in the world with only one other person out.

“It’s such an amazing wave out there,” said Sullivan referring to Snapper Rocks which has been dealing out perfect waves for the past week. “The thought of being out there with one other person throws me into a loop! I’ve been putting in the hard yards this week with the crowds so to get out there in the event with that one other person is going to be that much sweeter.”

Speaking on the upcoming Quiksilver Pro his aforementioned maturity becomes evident immediately. While younger surfers would be intimidated by the more seasoned stars of the sport, Sullivan will take them all in his stride. His main concern is adapting to the man-on-man format.

“I’ve had a chance to compete with the top guys in the 45 before as I made the main event last year at Pipe,” he said. “I feel great physically and I have some really good boards so I’m not too concerned with who is in my heat, in fact I really want to draw the top guys because that will force me to dig deep and find the highest performance level that I am capable of. I haven’t had much experience surfing in man-on-man heats so adjusting to that is going to be a bit of a challenge but I’ve been working with my coach and getting some strategies down, so I’m hoping it all works out.”

Officially withdrawing from 2006’s proceedings is Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour stalwart Richie Lovett (AUS) who has been undergoing treatment for surgery to remove a Clear Cell Chondrosarcoma in his right hip.

It's been exactly five weeks since the surgery, which required Lovett to have a complete hip replacement, and he is still recovering in San Clemente, California.

He is in good spirits and is looking forward to returning home to Australia in the next few weeks.

Lovett's surgeon, Dr Earl Brien, is very pleased with the healing process to date and has given him the all clear to continue increasing pressure on the leg, and what began as a shuffle is slowly developing into a walk.

"I'm feeling a little stronger every day and the range of movement is returning to my leg. I have progressed from lying in bed to shuffling up the hallway and now my daily workout takes me about a 100 meters down the road."

Lovett intends to complete his initial rehabilitation in California and return back to his home base of Manly, Sydney, Australia in early March.

With Lovett’s withdrawal the seeding order moves up a notch therefore Bede Durbidge (AUS), who was first alternate, will be reinstated to the World Championship Tour (WCT) for the year.

Before surfers hit the water for the first rounds of the Quiksilver Pro a gala night will be held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre in order to honour ASP’s respective 2005 tour champions.

2005 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champ Slater, plus ASP Women’s World Tour champion Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) will be crowned in front of their peers and the sport’s legends alike.

The Quiksilver Pro Trials will be held on Monday 27 February and the final of the Quiksilver Core Store Surf Challenge will also be held on either 28 February or 1 March. The main event waiting period will begin on 28 February. and will host the live webcast of the entire event. Interviews, replays, special guests and Quiksilver’s daily “Live at 5” wrap up are all highlights of the webcast.

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