The 2009 ASP World Tour is set to commence in just over a month, and the ASP Top 45 is looking set and shaping up to be one of the most explosive the world has ever seen.
Nine-times ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 36, will be back to hunt down ASP World Title No. 10, but standing in his way will be the best of the best.
Bede Durbidge (AUS), 25, and fellow top seeds Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, Joel Parkinson (AUS), 27, and C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, will lead the rest of the ASP Top 45 in their respective bids to put a stop to the Slater juggernaut.
The official withdrawals of the Irons brothers and the acceptance of replacement surfers are in place, and the 2009 ASP Top 45 are finally locked in.
Roy Powers (HAW), 27, will be replacing Bruce Irons (HAW), 29, who finished No. 20 on last season's ASP World Tour but will be retiring from full-time competition in 2009. Despite the withdrawal from the Dream Tour, Irons will pursue wildcard entries into events.
Michael Campbell (AUS), 34, former ASP World No. 2, will replace former three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW), 30, on the 2009 ASP World Tour. Irons the elder will be taking 2009 to recuperate and has been awarded the ASP Wildcard for the 2010 ASP World Tour.
"Andy Irons requested and was granted an ASP Tour wildcard for 2010," Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew, ASP President, said. "Andy cited personal reasons for not participating in the full tour in 2009, however he may participate in certain pet events as an event wildcard. All stakeholders, being the surfers, the Events Council and ASP Management, were supportive of Andy's request, and the ASP Board of Directors ratified this arrangement officially."
"Andy will be sorely missed in 2009 and we look forward to him contending again from 2010," Bartholomew said. "Each year, three tour wildcards are issued, they are for injury, they are sometimes granted to next in line WQS and they are also granted to former ASP World Champions or someone held in high esteem."
This year's ASP Top 45 will see the addition of eight new faces in rookies Nathaniel Curran (USA), 24, Michel Bourez (PYF), 23, Nic Muscroft (AUS), 26, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, Tim Boal (FRA), 25, Dustin Barca (HAW), 26, Drew Courtney (AUS), 29, and Marlon Lipke (DEU), 24. Over 10 separate surfing nations will be represented in 2009, making this season's ASP World Tour one of the most diverse on record
Replacements for the 2009 ASP World Tour will be Jay Thompson (AUS), 25, Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 23, Ben Bourgeois (USA), 28, and Yadin Nicol (AUS), 23, respectively.
Comprehensive athlete profiles for the ASP Top 45 are now available via www.aspworldtour.com
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will kickstart the 2009 ASP World Tour at Snapper Rocks on Australia's Gold Coast. The waiting period for the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast runs from February 28 through March 11, 2009.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
2009 ASP World Tour Schedule:
Stop No. 1: Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (Feb. 28 – Mar. 11, 2009)
Stop No. 2: Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (Apr. 7 – 19, 2009)
Stop No. 3: Billabong Pro Teahupoo (May 9 – 20, 2009)
Stop No. 4: Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro (Jun. 27 – Jly. 5, 2009)
Stop No. 5: Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay (Jly. 9 – 19, 2009)
Stop No. 6: Hurley Pro Lower Trestles (Sept. 11 – 20, 2009)
Stop No. 7: Quiksilver Pro France (Sept. 23 – Oct. 4, 2009)
Stop No. 8: Billabong Pro Mundaka (Oct. 5 – 17, 2009)
Stop No. 9: Rip Curl Pro Search 'Somewhere' (Oct. 19 – 28, 2009)
Stop No. 10: Billabong Pipeline Masters (Dec. 8 – 20, 2009)