HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (Monday, September 28, 2009) – The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour completed the seventh of 10 stops on this year’s Dream Tour and reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 27, led the American Charge alongside Bobby Martinez (Santa Barbara, CA), 27, with both surfers earning fifth place finishes while 2007 ASP World Champ Mick Fanning (Tweed Heads, AUS), 27, marched to his second consecutive event win.
Slater turned heads in his opening round heats taking his Round 1 win by storm before narrowly defeating dangerous Quiksilver Pro wildcard Joan Duru in Round 3. Slater battled back in dramatic fashion to advance out of Round 3 after Duru blasted a near-flawless 9.17 out of 10 in the opening minutes their bout with a buzzer beating wave that was crucial in his fifth place result at the Quiksilver Pro France.
“I opened up with a pretty good wave but turned around to see Joan (Duru) bang out his 9.17,” Slater said. “As I was paddling out, I knew I was working the math out in my head as to what I’d have to do to come back. My board seemed to work out perfectly for those conditions – I’d never ridden it before, but it’s a similar template to one I’d been riding, a light, little epoxy. Joan didn’t ever really find a backup score and I was able to grab a good one right at the end there. Pretty happy to come back there.”
Slater, who started his 2009 season in uncharacteristically sluggish form, has slowly climbed back up the ASP Dream Tour ratings and now finds himself rated No. 5 overall and is back in contention for an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title, but the talented Floridian knows that catching current ratings leader Joel Parkinson (Coolangatta, AUS), 28, will be no easy task.
“I don’t really smell blood yet,” Slater said. “I think I’m still in the forest trying to find him (Parkinson).”
Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 24, steamrolled his way through the opening Rounds of the Quiksilver Pro France, capitalizing on his success in the previous events as a momentum-builder while smashing some of the event’s top scores on the way to a 9th place finish overall. Reynolds opted for some unusual equipment in his early round heats to negotiate the tricky French beach-break conditions and his Round 4 finish at the Quiksilver Pro stamps him at No. 11 on the ASP World Tour after the first of three European events on this year’s calendar.
“The waves were pretty bad and I couldn’t take it too serious on a shortboard,” Dane said. “The waves were still really fun though. It’s not flat and there were still some good sections to get speed on and get some airs. I had fun out there. I am riding an MTF (Merrick Twin Fin). It’s just a copy of one of Rob Machado’s old ones. It felt good today in these waves, with two big side-fins and one smaller one in the middle. I was scared to ride this board because it was catching rail yesterday, but it was going pretty good today. I just figured that I’d have a lot more fun on this thing.”
Reynolds’ ninth place result did not come easily however, as he was nearly sent to elimination Round 2 at the beginning of the event when fellow Ventura native and friend Nathaniel Curran (Oxnard, CA), 24, dominated the opening round heat, before Reynolds found the wave needed in the final seconds of their match, capitalizing on a crisp righthander to take out the heat victory.
“I knew that wave was going to offer up a score for me and all I had to do was surf it as best I can,” Reynolds said. “It had a good wall on it and I was able to do a few turns. It’s too bad for Nathaniel (Curran) as he was surfing really, really well, but I’m sure he’ll do well in his Round 2 heat.”
The European leg of the ASP World Tour will continue with the Billabong Pro Mundaka, which holds a waiting period from October 5-17, 2009.
For event information log on to www.billabongpro.com
For Quiksilver Pro France highlights log on to www.quiksilverlive.com
For ASP information check out www.aspworldtour.com or www.aspnorthamerica.org