Monday, April 5, 2004 (Bells Beach, VIC, AUS) Local Victorian surfer Adam Robertson today won the Surf Dive ‘n’ Ski Trials for the second consecutive year, securing one of three wildcard positions among the world’s elite in the 2004 Rip Curl Pro. The prestigious World Championship Tournament (WCT) enters its 11-day waiting period tomorrow, with only four days required to complete the event. Organizers will evaluate conditions each morning as to the day’s schedule and updated information will be available on Surf Dive ‘N’ Ski Trials at Bells Beach consisted of eight Victorian hopefuls, seven international Rip Curl Team riders, plus three-time world champion Tom Curren (CA, USA). A round robin system was utilized, whereby each surfer contested three rounds and the highest four accumulated totals then contested a final.21-year-old Robertson was actually trailing on points leading into the decider, but then turned his fortune around with a win at the crucial stage. The natural footer gained control in the 3ft (1m) conditions, repeating his 2003 victory for another shot at glory.”I can’t believe it,” said Robertson. “I really wanted to win it again. I’ve watched the Rip Curl Pro ever since I was born, and it’s such a good event. I’m so happy to be a part of it. I feel like I know the wave at Bells quite well, and to do it twice in a row is a really good confidence booster. It also gives me a good chance to come up against the main guys, so it’s great to see them close up in the water and try to beat them.”Zane Harrison (Sunshine Coast, QLD) – the 1999 Rip Curl Cup winner at Sunset Beach, Hawaii – finished runner-up today in the Surf Dive ‘N’ Ski Trials and also earned a main event start. After winning his three earlier rounds, the 23-year-old placed fourth in the final, but had done enough on adjusted points to progress. Following a fractured pelvis injury that kept him out of action for most of the past two years, today’s result is a major confidence booster.”I was pretty lucky to finish second overall,” reasoned Harrison. “I finished fourth in the final heat, but luckily I had the three wins early on. I’ve had a fractured pelvis for the past two years, so this is my first result and hopefully I’ll do well in the actual WCT. After my injury, this is the best thing that could have happened to me.”Reigning Australian and World Under 18 Champion Ben Dunn (Old Bar, NSW, Aus) – another Rip Curl team rider – was granted the third wildcard position directly into the main event last week, thus bypassing the cut-throat Surf Dive ‘N’ Ski Trials.The 2004 Rip Curl Pro Press Launch was also held this morning, in the heart of Melbourne at Federation Square’s {{{Transport}}} Bar. An all-star ensemble was present, with local media filling the venue for their opportunity to hear comments from the world’s best surfers.Reigning two-time consecutive world and Rip Curl Pro champion Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) was on hand. The Kauaian is obviously out to match the previous records of three consecutive event titles set by surfing legends Michael Peterson and Mark Richards, and commented on his amazing season in 2003.”The momentum I got after winning Bells really started the year for me,” acknowledged Irons. “Last year pushed me beyond anything I thought I was capable of. I’ve got the utmost respect for Kelly and his time is definitely not over, but all the guys at this table are really hungry also. I think it will be an awesome race this year again, but last year will always stay sweet in my heart. I’m really happy and proud of it.”Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (FL, USA) – who’s just posted back-to-back World Qualifying Series (WQS) event victories in Australia – admitted his track record at Bells is below the par he sets for himself.”I’ve had a couple of really good weeks,” said Slater, of his recent wins. “(The Rip Curl Pro) hasn’t been a great contest for me. I did win in 1994, but other than that my best results have been fifths. I had a close loss to ‘Occy’ (Mark Occhilupo) last year, but sometimes those losses drive you to surf harder and get yourself more in tune with what you’re doing, and that’s what happened here.”Current ASP ratings leader Mick Lowe (Windang, AUS), who won the opening WCT on Australia’s Gold Coast last month, pointed out the appeal a coveted Bells’ trophy holds.”It’s a great feeling to start the year off so well, especially knocking off Kelly and then Andy on the way,” explained Lowe, of his recent win. “I’ve had a dream start, so I hope to keep the momentum going. Torquay holds a special place for us, and although I haven’t done too well in the Rip Curl Pro in the past, we all want to win the Bell. It’s probably the best trophy you can ever win in surfing.”World #6 Kieren Perrow (Byron Bay, AUS) offered the following take on his main opponents in the Rip Curl Pro; “There are 47 others. Pretty much every heat you go into, you have to be prepared to face somebody who is wanting to win. Your dedication and drive have to be just as strong as theirs. I’ll just be trying to stay relaxed.”The Rip Curl Pro is Australia’s longest running professional surfing contest and holds a proud place in surfing folklore, stretching back to 1973. The Rip Curl Pro’s status as one of six Victorian Government-designated Hallmark Events each year, alongside the Melbourne Formula One and Phillip Island Motorcycle {{{Grand Prix}}}, the Australian Tennis Open, the Melbourne Cup and the AFL Grand Final, is an acknowledgment of its contribution to the state’s rich sporting culture.