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News provided by ASP World Tour on 27 February 2006

In incredible one to two metre (three to six feet) conditions at Snapper Rocks, Queensland, Australia, the Quiksilver Pro Trials was run and won by 20-year-old Ben Dunn.

Dunn, hailing from Old Bar, News South Wales, Australia will now take the remaining wildcard slot in the main draw of the opening event of the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro.

Grabbing a wave in the final five minutes of the final, Dunn blasted an amazing 9.25 out of a total of 10 and hurdled his fellow competitors in Jay Thompson (AUS), Shaun Gossman (AUS) and Damon Harvey (AUS) to take the win.

“The whole final I was having a shocker,” said an elated Dunn. “I got one good wave at the start and I knew I needed one more good one but I just couldn’t get it. Then that last set wave arrived and Jay Thompson went the first one and I grabbed the second and managed to get a great score.”

The win today will be a great confidence boost for Dunn as he looks ahead to taking on world number two Andy Irons (HAW) and Brazilian Paulo Moura in round one of the main event.

“I’m really looking forward to taking them on,” said Dunn. “They are such good surfers it should be a great challenge.”

Looking calm and collected prior to their respective all out assaults on the Quiksilver Pro and the 2006 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour were 2005 rankings top three Kelly Slater (USA), Irons and Mick Fanning (AUS).

The three men, alongside Roxy Pro contestants, ASP Women’s World Tour one and two Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) and Sofia Mulanovich (PER) and last year’s event winner Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), were confronted by a barrage of cameras and journalists this morning in the pre-event media conference.

Slater, who hasn’t won on the Gold Coast since 1998 has been relaxing prior to the event, and unlike his fellow competitors has been avoiding the public eye and actually not spending much time in the water.

“I haven’t been surfing much the past few weeks, I’ve just been relaxing,” said Slater. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and surfing though. Every time I get on the waves they’re so much fun and being able to surf Snapper with no-one out is a great feeling.”

The personal question facing Slater at present is whether he has the intrinsic desire to complete the whole tour and contend for an eighth world crown. He indicated that at this stage he is undecided about his plans.

“I got really excited a couple of weeks ago about fully applying myself again this year and that’s what I expect to do here this week,” said Slater. “But I’m going to take every event as it comes and I’m definitely going to surf every event that I love to surf. But, my life is changing and I’m towards the backside of my career. I’m trying to figure out if this is what makes me most happy. If I’m totally enjoying it, which I did last year and if I start off really loving the tour and having a good time then I’ll do the whole thing.”

Irons meanwhile looked to be enjoying the lack of pressure associated with not having to defend a world crown, and he was cool amongst the hussle.

He did, however, acknowledge that due to the length of the rides at Snapper Rocks and the strong sweep by the current, the physical challenge is incredibly intense.

“The bullseye has moved to the right [now I’m not world champion],” said Irons. “The waves are really good and I’m really happy to be here on the Gold Coast. There is a challenge and that’s being physically fit to surf that long on the wave and have the energy to go back out and catch two more like it. That takes a lot of strength and endurance. I’ve been trying to get my cardio up and have been going to the gym a bit, but nothing can really prepare you like being able to come here and surf the waves day in and day out.”

Fanning meanwhile indicated that to defend his Quiksilver Pro title he would have to cast aside the throng of newcomers to the 2006 tour. Coming on board are 10 new faces and all have vastly contrasting styles.

“All the rookies are threats and there are a wide range of people,” said Fanning. “I’ve surfed a lot of events against Adrian Buchan (AUS) and Shaun Candsell (AUS) and they’re exceptional competitors. Then there’s older guys like Pancho Sulllivan (HAW) – when he comes out of the gate he’s going to blow the back out of it. It’s going to be really interesting. I think there could be a lot of upsets, but it should be really fun.”

On the Roxy Pro front, 2005 ASP Women’s World Tour champion Georgeson was also looking forward to tucking into some quality waves.

“This is going to be a different experience [having to defend the top spot],” said Georgeson. “I really look forward to the Roxy Pro every year and like Kelly said, being able to surf out here with just one or two other girls is pretty amazing.”

But with Gilmore back in the top ranks as a wildcard Georgeson isn’t expecting the Roxy Pro winner’s trophy to come easily.

“I am looking forward to surfing with Steph,” said Georgeson. “We’ve never had a heat together and Steph has some pretty good odds in her favour. She lives here and surfs here everyday, she’s an amazing surfer at Snapper. I’m definitely going to go all out to beat her, as anyone would when coming up against her.”

Mulanovich meanwhile recognised the need to register a good result at the opening event. The confidence gained obviously gives the competitors a mental edge and Mulanovich needs everything it takes to mix it with the strong contingent now on the ASP Women’s World Tour.

“It is really important to have a good start on the Gold Coast, there’s really good waves and it’s really cool to be here,” said Mulanovich. “This year I just want to have fun, I want to go out there and try my best and see what happens, there’s no pressure.”

Gilmore’s aim for the year is quite simple. Last year as a school girl she was a wildcard into the Roxy Pro and managed to make a huge impact by taking out several big names along her ride to victory. This year she will obviously be hoping to emulate that victory but her real aim is to qualify for the big tour through the World Qualifying Series and then give the world title one almighty shake.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to qualify straight of the bat this year,” said Gilmore. “And then I’ll be on there with Chelsea and Sofia to try and battle it out for the world title. Chelsea is my favourite female surfer and she’s the best in the world, it’s going to be a difficult task but I get to surf with Chelsea every day so I’m really lucky in many ways. I don’t know that many kids around who get to go surfing with their hero every day.”

With the swell predicted to hold in at around the one metre (three feet) mark tomorrow organisers are hopeful that the first rounds of either the Quiksilver or Roxy Pro events will hit the water.

A decision will be made at 7am. Both events are on standby.

Stay tuned to or for all the up to the minute information.


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