COOLANGATTA, Australia (Thursday, August 31, 2006)– Following the cancellation of the Billabong Pro Mundaka in 2005, Billabong and the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) are pleased to announce that the 10th event of the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour is officially back from October 2/3rd to the 14th.
Sand dredging in the area, located in the Basque region of Spain, in years prior to 2005 caused the perfect left breaking sand formation of the Mundaka bank to shift, resulting in waves that were substandard and not up to par with the requirements for a top tour event.
It was the second cancellation in the event’s six-year history, after the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour was called off early in 2001 following the tragic events of September 11 in New York.
Although the event has been on the 2006 tour event schedule since January, the ASP and licensing sponsor Billabong have closely monitored the formation of the sand bank, declaring that 2006 will offer quality waves, suitable for what has been dubbed “The Dream Tour”.
The world’s best left-hander and the associated shifting silt river-mouth bank is back, longer, thicker and better than ever.
During the month of April in 2006, one of the best swells in 15 years pounded the Basque coast, turning on epic eight feet (two to three metre) waves at the mythical left with surfers scoring some of the best tube rides ever ridden at the break.
The Billabong Pro Mundaka plays a crucial part in deciding world champions.
Being the third last event on the 11 stop tour intense competition ensues as tour leaders jostle for ratings points leading into the final two events of the year in Brazil and Hawaii.
Mark Occhilupo (Aus), Kelly Slater (USA), Andy Irons (Haw), Shane Dorian (Haw) and Luke Egan (Aus) are the only surfers to have enjoyed the ritualistic practise of being thrown into the river from the wharf following event wins at Mundaka, since the events inception in 1999.
ASP President and 1978 world surfing champion Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew said Mundaka is crucial to the ASP World Tour.
"ASP International is delighted to see the return of the Billabong Pro Mundaka following a one year hiatus,” said Bartholomew. “The fears associated with the temporary disintegration of the fabled river mouth sandbar have been allayed, the result being the worlds best surfers will once again be gracing this world class surfing arena."
Reid Pinder, Brand Manager of Billabong Europe said bringing the tour back to the Basque region of Spain is beneficial not only to the ASP tour but vital for surfing in Europe.
"Returning to Mundaka for the Billabong Pro event is great news for all involved,” said Pinder.
“It was definitely a hard decision to cancel last years event, since then we have not stopped monitoring the situation.”
“It's great to see Mundaka pumping again and that Mother Nature could restore what human hands had wrecked.”
“On behalf of Billabong, I would like to thank the ASP and the surfers for their patience in a wave like Mundaka and expressing so much interest in its progress.”
“We look forward to returning this prestigious event back to its natural home in the Basque Country, at Europe's best left.”
“Billabong would especially like to thank Mundaka, the town and the surf club, for their concern, support and commitment in bringing back such a special event to their beautiful home."
The world’s top 45 surfers hold Mundaka in high regard, a favourite stop among many for the unique local culture, epic waves, beautiful scenery and friendly nature of the Basque people.
“When Mundaka was called off I couldn’t believe it,” said three-time world champion Andy Irons. “Mundaka is such a good wave and the place is so beautiful; I wasn’t really sure of what happened to the wave, with the dredging and the sand bank, and how long it would take to return, so I was really bummed.”
“I was hanging out with Occy [Mark Occhilupo] at the time and he was the same,” said Irons. “That’s his spot down there, he’s the man, he’s kind of the unofficial Mayor of the place. When he shows up, everybody comes to see him, they know about his first name! He loves it, and he surfs the wave like no one else.”
The Billabong Pro Mundaka can be viewed LIVE on the internet at www.billabongpro.com.