Rob Machado Heads List Of Trialists

Quiksilver Pro (May 26 – June 7) & www.aspworldtour.comAssociation of Surfing Professionals (ASP)2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)

ASP Int’l, QLD, Australia (Wednesday, May 22) Former world #2 rated surferRob Machado (USA) is returning to top-level competition this weekend as anentrant in the Quiksilver Trials at Tavarua and Namotu Islands, Fiji. Thetop two trials place getters will receive wildcards into the main event ofthe US$250,000 Quiksilver Pro, the fourth event on the Association ofSurfing Professionals (ASP) 2002 World Championship Tour (WCT).

Eight people will contest the Quiksilver Trials as a lead-in to theQuiksilver Pro, including dynamic Hawaiian Fred Patacchia, Pipelinespecialist Strider Wasilewski (USA), top World Qualifying Series (WQS)surfer Troy Brooks (Aus), Spain’s Jonathan Gonzalez, local Fijian expertWaqa “Tavarua” Mata, as well as two other local Fijian qualifiers.

ASP President/CEO Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew said the internationalQuiksilver Trials would be a great curtain raiser to the prestigiousQuiksilver Pro.

“Top guns such as Andy Irons (Haw), Kelly Slater (USA), Mark Occhilupo(Aus), Luke Egan (Aus), Cory Lopez (USA), CJ Hobgood (USA) and JoelParkinson (Aus) will have the luxury of assessing conditions at thelegendary Cloudbreak reef before engaging the break themselves,” Bartholomewsaid. “Eight hotties will go hammer and tong for the honor of challengingthe tournament’s top two seeds, Andy and Occy, in the first round. Withperformance levels going through the roof, Cloudbreak will bring the bestout in the guys.”

Contest director Rod Brooks said the swell charts on the Internet lookedpromising for an early start on Sunday 26 May, the first day of the 13-dayevent window that runs through to Friday, June 7.

“There is a strong low in the Tasman Sea, which we call ‘Pinball Alley’between Australia and New Zealand,” Brooks said. “This system will produce aconsistent, moderate sized swell from the south which is ideal forCloudbreak, a shallow coral reef two kilometers south of Tavarua and NamotuIslands.”

Machado’s return to major competition has created a lot of interest insurfing circles. The 2000 Pipeline Masters winner, now the father of a youngdaughter, is fit and ready to challenge the world’s best.

“Surf-wise I had some of the best waves I’ve ever seen in California thispast winter and finally had the opportunity to ride any and all thesurfboards I ever wanted to ride,” Machado, 28, said. “I feel like mysurfing is in the best place that it’s ever been in. Maybe not according tocontest criteria, but definitely in my mind, so I’m excited to put my pastexperience, along with my new love for surfing, up against the Top 46.

“I’ve gone on a few trips with Fred and he’s a great surfer,” he continued,of his fellow trialists. “Troy surfed great in the event a few years ago andmade the quarter-finals. And Waqa, he’s the man. The mellowest, nicestperson I know. He definitely has the hometown advantage and the home breakadvantage.

“Fiji could possibly be one of my favorite places to visit,” he added. “TheFijian people are by far some of the kindest people I’ve come across in theworld, and they have the best hair. Who ever said that Afros went out ofstyle?”

Fellow Californian Strider Wasilewski also has something of a localadvantage, once being a boatman at Tavarua Island for six weeks, takingguests surfing.

“I got to know the wave pretty well and think I have a great chance to winthe Quiksilver Trials,” Wasilewski said. “This would be my forte so tospeak – big left barrels. We’re dealing with Mother Nature and the last timeI was there I dislocated my shoulder and got seven stitches in my foot! So Ifeel I have paid my dues and if nothing else, it’s a great excuse to go toone of my favorite places.”

Brooks, a quarter-finalist in the 2000 Quiksilver Pro, said the Trials wereshaping up as being a very hard event.

“Heats in the main event won’t be too much harder because most of thosesurfers have competed on the WCT and Rob Machado finished second before,”Brooks said. “I got a 5th at Cloudbreak in 2000. It’s a bit trickier on yourbackhand. The barrel is a little bit harder to work. I’m just going to goout there and have fun and hopefully do what I did two years ago.”

Spain’s Jonathan Gonzalez will also be on his backhand and said he was veryhappy to have the opportunity to surf amongst the world’s best surfers.

“It represents a place in what would be the most important contest in mylife, so I hope to take advantage of this great opportunity and surf mybest,” Gonzalez said. “I would be really thankful if I could get a wildcardas it would open up the door to the WCT for me.”

Hawaiian goofy footer Fred Patacchia said that if the surf is good, all thetrialists have a chance to win.

“They are all great surfers and competitors,” said Patacchia. “I thinkCloudbreak is one of the best waves in the world and to compete against theTop 46 is a dream. I can’t wait, but I’m also nervous as I don’t want to letthe boys down back home.”

Detailed releases will be available from the opening day of the 2002Quiksilver Pro.

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