PIPELINE, Hawaii (Sunday, Dec.10, 2006) – With two to 2.5 metre (six to eight foot) plus waves charging into the famed arena that is the Banzai Pipeline, organisers of the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters will push the green for go button this morning and send out round one.
Today is day three of the waiting period which extends right up until December 20 and with the waves showing plenty of potential it will be like letting the horses loose as the best 45 surfers in the world from the Foster's ASP World Tour take on a host of wildcard outsiders.
The pressure will be on the "backend" rated surfers from surfing's top tour as the 3rd and 4th placed surfers in heats will be eliminated from the event thus scoring minimum ratings points and placing their 2007 qualifying hopes in jeopardy.
On the edge of the qualifying "bubble" as it is known, are those surfers ranked from 25 down. With the cut-off for next year's tour being slot number 27, today will make or break the careers of some of surfing's finest athletes.
While 25th Victor Ribas (BRA) has gained enough points in ASP's second tier tour, the World Qualifying Series (WQS) to make it into next year's elite comp, today will be testing for 26th through to 33rd – Pancho Sullivan (HAW), Mick Lowe (AUS), Darren O'Rafferty (AUS), Chris Ward (USA), Luke Stedman (AUS), Jake Paterson (AUS) and Nathan Hedge (AUS) – who are mathematically in with a requalifying chance with solid result to a win needed to leap frog back into contention.
Expect the sparks to fly!