Friday, June 17, 2005 (Saint Leu, Reunion Island): Former World Champion Tom Curren (USA) and 2003 World Under 18 Champion Ben Dunn (AUS) have accepted Wildcard entries for the first ever Rip Curl Search WCT, this year running at Saint Leu in Reunion Island from June 23 to July 4.
The sponsor awarded Wildcards mean 40-year-old Curren and 19-year-old Dunn will not have to surf in this week’s Optique Bourbon / Rip Curl Eyewear Trials, running on Wednesday, June 22. Instead of contesting a tough Trials round robin, the pair will watch on from the beach as eight local surfers and eight of Rip Curl’s international pro team compete for the final Wildcard slot.
For Curren, the Wildcard entry is a valued gift. The veteran is attempting to qualify for the 2006 Foster’s Men’s World Championship Tour and is relishing the opportunity to compete against the current crop of prosurfers on the highest of world stages.
“It’s great,” the legend replied when asked about surfing his first WCT in quite some time. “The thing about surfing a ‘CT is that someone in my position is not doing it for the points. I’m trying to do the best I can and beat the best surfers I can. I’m just trying to take out the top rated surfers I’ll surf against in the early rounds.”
“I am still hoping to qualify for the ‘CT next year, but my last few results haven’t been that good,” Curren continued. “I’ll just see how it goes. I’m competing in Durban, Japan, and surfing three events in France after this, so I’ll see how my points look after that.”
The chance to surf the Rip Curl Search WCT is a great way for Curren to measure his competitive surfing against the likes of current ASP ratings leader Kelly Slater (Florida, USA) and reigning World Champion Andy Irons (Kauai, Hawaii), but as he agreed later this year’s Search WCT will also give him the opportunity to experience one of the world’s best waves with an empty line-up.
“I haven’t been here for about six years, so it’s exciting,” Curren continued. “I have surfed it really good a few times, so I hope it gets like that again. It’s such a perfect wave when it is right.”
Current Australian Pro Junior Circuit ratings leader Ben Dunn is young enough to be Curren’s son, but has been labeled as a future world champion since his early teens. The technically flawless natural footer believes the WCT experience he’s received in the past year will be more than beneficial in achieving this.
“This will be my third WCT (Dunn surfed in the 2004 & 2005 Rip Curl Pro WCT’s at Bells Beach, Australia) and I am so stoked to get another chance to surf against the WCT guys,” he said.
“I was really nervous before last year’s Rip Curl Pro at Bells, but I wasn’t nervous this year and I’m not really nervous about Reunion. I’m just looking forward to surfing against the WCT guys again. I haven’t been to Reunion Island before and I’ve heard that there are great waves, so I just can’t wait to get there and have a go.”
With just several days remaining until the first heat of this year’s Optique Bourbon / Rip Curl Eyewear Trials, surf forecasters and event organisers are hopeful of good conditions and a good swell for the start of competition.
The Foster’s Men’s WCT has been absent from Reunion Island since 1996, but next week’s event will reintroduce professional surfing to the island’s world-famous left hand reef break.
The Rip Curl Search WCT holds a totally unique ‘ASP Floating License’, which allows Rip Curl to schedule the event in a different location every year, if it sees fit. A company built on the true surfing Search
philosophy; Rip Curl has developed this event so it can travel the planet, delivering the world’s best waves to the world’s best surfers.
Reunion Island, situated in the Indian Ocean off the south east coast of South Africa, has been selected for Year 1. For a surfer there is no better Search destination. Often called ‘the intense island’, Reunion is a small volcanic island with an excitingly active coastline. Through the swell months of May to October, Reunion’s surf breaks hold long swells that deliver fortunate surfers with some of the highest quality waves in the world.