A Bugs Eye View

While the waiting game continues at Mundaka no less then three other events are taking place, a pair of 4 Star Men's WQS events are going down in the Canaries and Santa Cruz and the ASP Women's Tour is also awaiting better swell conditions at Manly Beach Australia.

Organizers are giving the Billabong Pro every chance of running at the fabled Mundaka, we are down to four days remaining in the waiting period with a two day surfing program before them. So far not a heat has been able to run at the primary event site, there have been small clean waves on offer at Bakio however Europe's most legendary surf spot has remained dormant except for the occasional one footer racing off down the bank at low tide.

This chess game is not an unfamiliar routine on the 2007 Foster's ASP World Tour. Most of the events have stretched the entire event window, a run of 3 or 4 consecutive running days has not been the theme in 07, the trend has been more stop-start, a short burst at the beginning, nothing in the middle and a race against the clock for a second swell cycle to grace the main venue. Every year is different for sure, but this trend has definitely thrown up a fresh new set of challenges, as the guys seek to retain a competitive edge throughout the down periods.

It's all about a short term objective of getting up for a heat on any given day, woven into a grand scheme to build momentum and reach a competitive peak at the business end of the tournament. This strategy is tested by early calls, hourly postponements, re-check-ins, tentative start times, mobile calls and the fluctuating swell and weather forecasts. There is a lot to assimilate, especially for those in the next few heats on call for the resumption. It is easy to get caught napping, difficult to maintain a winning psyche and each time you have to back off down from competitive arousal the very process can erode the motivation.

So it takes a special mind-set to ride out the lulls and be totally ready to fire up in the marshalling area. If one were to scroll down through the list of winners of the Billabong Pro Mundaka the chill factor becomes quite evident. Take Luke Egan, Shane Dorian, Occy and defending champion Bobby Martinez for example. All these surfers have in common a high chill threshold, they are easy going guys who do not get easily ruffled. Luke Egan, the big easy, Shane Dorian, laid back Lenny from the Big Isle, Occy, always ready for a couple quiet ales while chilling out at the Mundaka sunset, and the chilled California kid, Bobby Martinez.

Judgement day awaits in the Basque country, may the best chilled win.

A couple shock exits at the NAB Beachley Classic. After two rounds of the ASP Women's format only two surfers are eliminated, however at Manly Beach today it was last years World #2 Melanie Redman-Carr and rising star Rebecca Woods. Neither is in any doubt of qualifying for 08 via the WQS, however this early exit from the points laden Classic is a huge blow to their respective world rankings.

NAB Beachley Classic wildcard Sally Fitzgibbons

With a whopping 20% loading, the US${{{100}}},000 NAB Beachley Classic will play a pivotal role in deciding this years World Champion. It must feel like deja vu for Layne Beachley. Last year, in the inaugural year of the tournament named in her honour, she gathered the best young surfers outside the WCT for the trials. Surfing's new superstar Stephanie Gilmore advanced to the main event, where she pretty much annihilated the current #1 at the time, Mel Redman-Carr. Steph then went on to make the final, where she defeated the then 6 times World Champion Layne Beachley.

Far from regretting her decision to assemble such talent, Layne was animated of her stoke at the outcome of her pet event. In actual fact Stephanie, even in defeating Layne, did Beachley a huge favour by cutting a swathe through the field, and more importantly, reigned in Redman-Carr, who had won the first three events on last years tour and was looking unstoppable. History showed that Layne did indeed erode Mel's lead, eventually clinching at Honolua. This gave Layne the top seed for the season opening Roxy Pro at Snapper.

Along came young Carissa Moore, who took Layne and a whole bunch of established stars out enroute to a historic Final's appearance. This got the champ off to a slow start in her title defence, but with a combination of rookies doing well, Steph, and veterans on the comeback, Sam Cornish, Layne found herself with the #1 seed going into her event. Again the trials were an amazing insight into the future, with young NSW surfer Sally Fitzgibbon prevailing. Well, wouldn't you know it, Sally paddles out in her heat, and like Steph and Carissa, surfed with that nimbleness and flair that comes with a “nothing to lose” attitude, and smoked her heat, posting the top score of the round and booking a one on one heat with 7 times World Champion Layne Beachley.

So we have the Billabong Pro Mundaka and the NAB Beachley Classic poised at the third round of competition. The 20% points loading at Manly will definitely have the girl's full attention and of course, the Beachley/Fitzgibbon heat will be pure theatre as Layne attempts to ward off a challenge of her own making. You gotta admire the great ones passion for her sport, she always puts Women's surfing in the spotlight and, as fierce a competitor as she is, Layne shares the love, she believes in the destiny of a surfing discipline she has redefined, and all the girls, especially the next generation, are the direct beneficiaries of her stellar contribution.

A couple 4 Stars also in motion. The O'Neill Cold Water Classic is enjoying great surf at Steamer Lane while the Ocean & Earth Pro is also scoring tasty barrels over in the Canaries. Steamer Lane has been the site of some epic Cold Water Classics, this long running event a major fixture on the ASP North America Tour. Although the counting points only go down to the Top 3 or 4 places, both these events are being hotly contested, attracting not only a host of proud local surfers but also a significant field of internationals.

One things for certain, there will be a log jam of press releases over the weekend as no less then four pro meets, being Men's and Women's World Champion events and two Men's 4 Stars, plus some pro junior qualifying action, draw to a conclusion in far flung locations.

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