The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast is just a few short days away from commencing and the opening event of the season will be headlined by none other than reigning 10-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA).
The iconic natural-footer utilized the off-season to recharge in his adopted homes of Hawaii and California, working on equipment and taking advantage of the winter swell season.
“I’ve been hanging in Hawaii and getting boards sorted out in California and having down time,” Slater said. “Surfing myself out most of January was fun.”
The ASP Top 34 comprises the best surfers on the planet and Slater is conscious of the increased level of talent in 2011.
“It will depend on where the waves show up,” Slater said. “If we’re at the beach break, guys like Julian Wilson and Josh Kerr will be most dangerous. The points bring out the best tubes and carving typically, but everyone surfs well at Snapper.”
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 29, finished last season 24th in the ASP World Title rankings, following a near career-ending injury that saw the stylish natural-footer sit out the bulk of the season.
“It’s a big year for me for sure.” Parkinson said. “I turn 30 pretty soon. After what’s happened over the past couple of years, after the injuries and disappointments, if I can surf every event this year at 100% fitness, I’d consider that a victory in itself.”
With his sights set on the 2011 ASP World Title, Parkinson is well aware of the roadblocks that exist in the form of his fellow elite campaigners.
“I think Jordy Smith will be a lot more mature in the way he surfs heats, just on the back of the confidence he’ll take from last year,” Parkinson said. “He’s an amazing surfer and he put together a really good season last year.”
South Africans will be hoping that 2011 will be Jordy’s year he will be keen to start the campaign on a good note.
“The first thing that comes to mind regarding Snapper Rocks is that it’s one of the best rip, tear and slash waves around,” Smith said. “The wave offers so many ways that one can surf it. I feel one has to surf it tight in the pocket and look for the tube. As the wave draws off and runs down the sand bar, it offers a big range of huge manoeuvres.”
Regarding the challenge of the first event of the season, Smith said it is going to be a tough one. “There are so many talented surfers, wildcards and new guys from the World Rankings who will be all showcasing themselves in this event. All and sundry will want to come away with a win, for sure.”
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1:
Heat 1:Adrian Buchan (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS), Bobby Martinez (USA), Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), TBA
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), TBA
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS), Taylor Knox (USA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Brett Simpson (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 11: Chris Davidson (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 12: Jadson Andre (BRA), Damien Hobgood (USA), Tiago Pires (PRT)