Reigning World Champion and current World No. 3 Kelly Slater (USA) clinched an emotional seventh ASP World Title in Imbituba in 2005. Three-time World Champion Andy Irons (HAW), who has withdrawn from the event to prepare for his November wedding, clinched his third title in Brazil in 2004. Sunny Garcia (HAW) took top honors in Rio de Janeiro in 2000 and Mark Occhilupo, the last Australian to earn a world title, clinched his in Brazil's beach breaks in 1999.
At 41-years-old, Occhilupo will likely retire at the end of 2007, after more than two decades on tour. As the last Australian world champion, he is eager to pass the torch before he wraps up his days on the Foster's ASP World Tour.
"It would be classic," Occhilupo said. "It's a good and bad thing to be the last Australian World Champion. You get a few accolades for that, but Australia is the kind of place where it has been too long. We used to win a lot of World Titles. I'll be more than happy to hand it over to one of the boys."
Only Fanning, Taj Burrow (AUS) and Slater are still in contention for the world title.*
Five of the Top 45 will not be in Brazil citing knee injuries. Those surfers are Michael Lowe (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA), Tim Reyes (USA), Ben Dunn (AUS) and Travis Logie (ZAF). Rookie Luke Munro (AUS) has withdrawn for family reasons. Both 1st and 2nd replacement surfers Trent Munro (AUS) and David Weare (ZAF) declined their spots for family reasons as well.
The absence of seven of the Top 45 at present will bring the number of Brazilian surfers who do not compete on the tour full time to 10. The Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro wildcards are Jihad Kodhr (BRA), Diego Rosa (BRA) and Fabio Gouveia (BRA) and, while the complete number of stand-in surfers has not been officially confirmed, it is expected that former Foster's 45 Peterson Rosa (BRA), Heitor Alves (BRA), Renato Galvao (BRA), Jean da Silva (BRA) and Simao Romao (BRA) will be among the replacements.
*Foster's ASP World Tour Title Scenarios heading into the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro:
Please note that in all scenarios below, both Burrow and Slater will need to win the Billabong Pipeline Masters as well, even if Mick Fanning gets a 33rd in Hawaii.
• If Mick Fanning wins in Brazil he clinches the World Title.
• If Fanning gets 2nd, Taj Burrow needs to win the event and Kelly Slater is out of the race.
• If Fanning gets 3rd, Burrow needs a 2nd and Slater is out of the race.
• If Fanning gets 5th, Burrow needs a 3rd and Slater needs a 1st.
• If Fanning gets 9th, Burrow needs a 5th and Slater needs a 2nd.
• If Fanning gets 17th, Burrow needs a 9th and Slater needs a 3rd.
• If Fanning gets 33rd, Burrow needs a 9th and Slater needs a 3rd.
Burrow and Slater will need to count on a 17th or 33rd finish from Fanning in Brazil and place as high as possible in the same event (Burrow higher than 9th and Slater higher than 3rd - to be in better title contention (not needing a win) going into Hawaii.
E.g.: If Fanning gets a 17th in Brazil and Burrow gets a 5th, then with a 2nd place in Hawaii Burrow would win the title if Fanning gets a 17th or worse at Pipe.