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The first of the ASP World Tour Events gets underway this weekend

Last week at Huntington Beach, California, the first major ASP world rankings shake down happened when 2011 ASP Dream Tour rookie Alejo Muniz (BRA), 20, began his campaign in top form.

Meanwhile, 34 of the world’s best surfers are converging on Australia’s Gold Coast for the first of 11 tournaments on the ASP World Tour. The end of the week, 26th February, sees the Quiksilver Pro, presented by Landrover, swing into action. The top surfers are warming up in readiness for the opening event of the World Title season. Kelly Slater (USA) 39, 10-time World Champion, will be headlining the event and defending his incredible record.

The iconic natural footer has spent the off-season between Hawaii and California. “I’ve been hanging in Hawaii and getting boards sorted out in California and having down time,” he said. “Surfing myself out most of January was fun.” He intends to open the season up in a high-performance righthand pointbreak at this event.

The world renowned breaks of Snapper Rocks, South Queensland are a fitting venue for this primary event. It has consistent world class waves that are long, hollow, fast, powerful and fun and is known to be one of the best waves on the coast, but definitely waves for experienced surfers. The other thing about Snapper Rocks is that you always have a choice – if the waves are not good in one place, its very easy to upsticks the whole competition and move to a better spot – which will not be far away.

Some of the 34 competed last weekend in the ASP 4-Star Breaka Burleigh Pro last weekend, also on the Gold Coast. The defending champion, Taj Burrow, gave an impressive performance to clinch his second consecutive Breaka Burleigh Pro Title.

At the same time, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast will feature the world’s best female surfers as they start their respective campaigns for the 2011 ASP Women’s World Title – also presented by Landrover. “Snapper is one of the most high-performance waves on tour so it is one of the funnest to surf,” says Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 27, former ASP Women’s World Champion. “Everyone loves snapper and I am sure all the girls are pumped to surf it. For sure, the ASP Women’s World Champ is always the one to watch, but all the girls on tour are amazingly talented surfers and I think this year the level of women’s surfing will be through the roof.”

Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 20, 2010 ASP Women’s World Runner-Up, is keen to get back into competition mode after an off-season spent traipsing up and down the Eastern seaboard of Australia even managing to spend “…some time at Snapper when the cyclone swells hit”.

Just after Christmas, 4-time World Surfing Champion, Stephanie Gilmore, currently # 1 in the world ranking, was the victim of a vicious assault outside her home. She was left with a broken wrist and cuts to her head and hands. However, the plaster is off, she’s done some paddling, tried some surfing, and intends to be out there in the waves defending her title.

Best of luck to all competitors.

… and while we’re about it, we’re strongly of the opinion that if you’re in the public eye you are, in effect, an ambassador for your country, and should behave with humility and charm, unlike pro-surfers Sunny Garcia and Jeremy Flores a couple of days ago. Come on guys – that’s seriously bad for surfers’ image and a lousy reflection on the both of you.

Both surfers have suffered the consequences of the rush of blood to their heads. Flores, who was midway through the Burleigh Pro, was suspended from completing the competition, but has been allowed to contest his place in the ASP Quiksilver Pro, and Garcia will miss his next event, the four-star ASP Burton Toyota Pro in Newcastle.

Obviously this is not the sort of behaviour that world-class competitions and sponsors wish to see. “In accordance with the ASP Rules and Discipline Policy, the ASP Rules and Disciplinary committee will cooperate fully and await the findings of an active police investigation into the matter before reconvening and determining the next course of action. It is noted that ASP International implements a zero tolerance policy in relation to violence.”

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