MUNDAKA, Spain (Sunday, October 1, 2006) – There’s no rest for the wicked on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour as the waiting period for event number nine, The Billabong Pro Mundaka begins tomorrow.
With less than 48 hours separating event number eight, The Quiksilver Pro France and The Billabong Pro Mundaka, today (Sunday) the best surfers in the world will strap their boards to their vehicles and drive two hours south from Hossegor to the Mundaka break which is recognised as one of the best left breaking waves in the world.
An extremely popular stop on the 11-event tour, there is much anticipation surrounding the event as it returns to the schedule after being cancelled last year due to the destruction of the sand bank on which the famous wave breaks.
In the past month however, the sand bank has indicated that it is almost back to its original perfect shape and over the past few weeks the break has turned on some incredible waves.
“This early season swell was fantastic,” commented Carl Wieser, Men’s Marketing Manager at Billabong Europe. “Mundaka really showed her teeth with some heavy waves that even had the locals pulling back!”
The last Billabong Pro Munduka was last held in 2004 with the winner being now-retired tour legend Luke Egan (AUS) who has accepted a wildcard into this year’s event to defend his title.
The powerful goofy footer, who ended his stellar career ranked 17th in the world in 2005, said a year away from tour life has taken it’s toll but he is adamant his skills on the board are as sharp as ever.
“I've put on a bit of weight over the last nine months thanks to some good Gold Coast living but I have been surfing close to everyday so I’m surf fit,” said Egan. “I'm just trying to do some exercise so I can last a few heats in a day, if you make the last day of competition this is absolutely crucial.
“If the waves are good I think I can still push the worlds best, if you have a close look I've only been off the tour nine months.”
After winning event number eight yesterday, Joel Parkinson (AUS) spoke of his love for the region and indicated he was eager to head to the location and go about chasing his dream of winning a world crown.
“Mundaka is a really special place,” said Parkinson. “It’s such a beautiful area with great culture. The people welcome us in and the whole vibe is like nothing on Earth. “
Mundaka is located in the heart of Euskadi (meaning, the Basque Country) and in the natural reserve of Urdaibai.
It is renowned for having the most ancient culture in Europe, with a language that has never been decrypted.
Prior to the start of the Billabong Pro there will be a traditional show with dances and music.
And at the end of the event, the winner gets treated with special attention from the members of the Mundaka Surf Taldea (the surf club) when they are carried from the podium to the port on the shoulders of eight selected representatives, and are thrown off, free falling six metres into the water.
From a tour perspective the Billabong Pro Mundaka will one of the most closely watched of the year.
The stage has been set for an almighty showdown and with an eighth Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour crown in his sights Kelly Slater (USA) will be focussed and dangerous.
A win here will wrap the title up for Slater as despite there being two tour events remaining after The Billabong Pro Mundaka, he will have amassed enough points so he will be unsurpassable.
Hot on his heels though are Taj Burrow (AUS), Andy Irons (HAW) and after their first and second placings yesterday Parkinson and Mick Fanning (AUS).
The event will be streamed LIVE to the world via www.aspworldtour.com and www.billabongpro.com
Stay tuned to both sites from 8am tomorrow local time for all the details surrounding the beginning of the event.
Round one heat draw: (1st to round three 2nd and 3rd to round two)
Heat 1: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs Luke Stedman (AUS) vs Pedro Henrique
Heat 2: Tim Reyes (USA) vs Victor Ribas (BRA) vs Davey Weare (ZAF)
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs Mikael Picon (FRA)
Heat 4: Taylor Knox vs Trent Munro (AUS) vs Jarrad Howse (AUS)
Heat 5: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs Cory Lopez (USA) vs Toby Martin (AUS)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs Travis Logie (ZAF) vs Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs Shaun Cansdell (AUS) vs Yuri Sodre (BRA)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs CJ Hobgood (USA) vs Hodei Collazo (ESP)
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW) vs Fred Patacchia (HAW) vs Hira Terinatoofa (PYF)
Heat 10: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs Greg Emslie (ZAF) vs Luke Egan (AUS)
Heat 11: Phil MacDonald (AUS) vs Nathan Hedge (AUS) vs Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 12: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs Mick Lowe (AUS) vs Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 13: Danny Wills (AUS) vs Jake Paterson (AUS) vs Marcelo Nunes (BRA)
Heat 14: Bruce Irons (HAW) vs Chris Ward (USA) vs Troy Brooks (AUS)
Heat 15: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs Pancho Sullivan (HAW) vs Paulo Moura (BRA)
Heat 16: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) vs Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) vs Peterson Rosa (BRA)
Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour Top 10 Ratings after Event #8
1. Kelly Slater 7017
2. Taj Burrow 5968
3. Andy Irons 5841
4. Joel Parkinson 5584
5. Mick Fanning 5341
6. Taylor Knox 4880
7. Bobby Martinez 4868
8. Damien Hobgood 4777
9. Tim Reyes 4585
10. Tom Whitaker 4441