IMBITUBA, Brazil (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007) – Competition for the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro, the second to last event on the Foster's ASP World Tour, has been called off today, the first of the nine day waiting period.
Inquiring minds shifted their focus from the surf to title contenders Mick Fanning (AUS), Kelly Slater (AUS) and Taj Burrow (AUS) at the official Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro press conference held in Imbituba this morning.
"This year has been great," ratings leader Fanning said. "I've had a lot of really good results and it's coming down to the end the now. Kelly and Taj are still there – it's great for the tour."
Fanning has led the entire season and will wrap up the title with a win at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro.
"Kelly and Andy [Irons] have dominated to sport for so long, they have 11 world titles between them," Fanning said. "To beat them both in the same year would be fun."
Between Fanning and current World No. 3 Burrow, Australia has a 66% chance at taking the No. 1 spot in the world for the first time in seven years. Burrow, like Fanning, has won two events this year, but will want to win another to have a real chance at top honors.
"I guess there's always a bit of pressure when you're in the front, but I think it's the best place to be." Burrow said. "I think Mick is in a great position but I'm just happy to be in there mathematically and have a chance."
Burrow has to place higher than Fanning in this event to remain in contention for his maiden world title. He's finished World No. 2 (1999, 2002) twice before and won ASP World Tour events in Brazil three times – in Imbituba in 2005, in Saquarema in 2002 and in Rio De Janiero in 1992.
"I've won a few contests in Brazil and I feel really confident here," Burrow said. "It's exciting for the race, because between the three of us, we've all won the event. Mick won it last year, I won the year before and Kelly's Kelly and he's won here too. It's making for an exciting race and should be good for the spectators too. We'll see how it unfolds but I'm excited about it."
Slater, who won his seventh ASP World Title in Imbituba in 2005 needs to finish two rounds ahead of Mick to stay in contention. Ideally, he needs a win in Brazil with Fanning bowing out early to mount a strong campaign for title No. 9.
"I know what I have to do and I am powerless to stop Mick, I can only do what I can do but sometimes that has an effect on the other guy so we'll just have to see what happens," Slater said. "I am a little frustrated that at the end of a year like this I am still narrowly in after not really having a great year but only a few flashes. Just a heat or two would change this whole year for me but if I can make up ground from here it would be probably my best win ever."
Another call on competition status will be made at Imbituba at 7am tomorrow.
*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.