COOLANGATTA, Australia (Thursday, January 28, 2009) – After 10 years of service as President of ASP International, Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew (AUS), 54, will be stepping down from the post, effective at the end of March 2009.
"After deep consideration, I have decided not to seek a fifth term as ASP President," Bartholomew said. "I depart from ASP with nothing but positive feelings. After 36 years in the engine room of the sport, the timing of this decision is of the utmost importance to me. I feel the time is right. I leave at the height of my effectiveness perhaps I could say the height of my popularity in the surfing world."
Bartholomew has been a central figure in professional surfing for over three decades. As a young Australian, the stylish natural-footer stormed onto the international scene in the 1970's, dominating lineups and planting the seeds for what would one day become professional surfing.
"Wayne has been the most fitting and articulate ambassador for the sport," Richard Grellman, Chairman of the ASP Board of Directors, said. "He has always represented ASP with integrity and candor. He is the visionary that started the Tour and then reinvented it again with the Dream Tour. We have a global, respected professional surf tour thanks to Rabbit and owe him a mountain of thanks."
The original "Coolangatta Kid" punctuated a stunning 12 years as a touring professional surfer with a World Title in 1978 and 8 consecutive years in the top 5. Bartholomew's 36 years in the sport also saw him collect World Titles in the ASP Masters (1999) and ASP Grand Masters (2003) divisions, serve 11 years as surfer representative on the ASP Board, eight years as the regional representative, four years as CEO/President and finally his decade-long stint as President of ASP International.
"All of my roles and especially my time as President have been a fulfilling and rewarding experience," Bartholomew said. "I consider it a privilege and an honour to have held this position of great responsibility and to have worked alongside a group of very dedicated and talented individuals."
A champion of surfers' rights and in possession of incredible market foresight, Bartholomew orchestrated the transition of professional surfing venues from metropolitan locations with marginal surf to the best waves on the planet, resulting in what is today referred to as the "Dream Tour."
"I have a deep affinity with professional surfing and my personal journey has run a parallel course with the evolution of the sport," Bartholomew said. "This leaves me with a feeling of deep satisfaction and I am confident about the future of the sport of professional surfing. Thank you for allowing me to serve the sport in the capacity of ASP President."
At present, the ASP Administration will review the role of President for the future as well as potential candidates. Regardless of the decision, the shoes left by Wayne Bartholomew will be immense.
"As soon as Bugs told me about his decision, I flew straight home to try and convince him to stay," Brodie Carr, ASP International CEO, said. "However, I completely understand his position and have nothing but respect for him. A day doesn't go past that Rabbit is not thinking, living and breathing professional surfing. With one eye on the keyboard and one eye on the surf, he is the absolute soul of ASP. I was always amazed at how someone could still be so stoked with surfing and in touch with the youth."
"Rabbit lives for the surfers and always puts their interest first," Carr said. "Rabbit has been my quarterback who I would go to for the history, the advice and general council. His knowledge and memory is nothing short of amazing. Thanks Bugs I am going to miss you mate!"