Quiksilver Gold Coast Pro Preview
[splitpost intro="true"]It's go time. This is the most highly anticipated ASP World Tour start for many a year. Under new management the tour has come back from perhaps losing its way very slightly, to a most definitely 'Dream Tour'. With the addition of J-Bay back into the schedule, and Samsung Galaxy signing on as headline sponsors, things are looking pretty exciting once again in the world of surf for both the Men's and Women's Tour.
As it has done for the last 13 years it all starts in the wave rich, crowded, party fueled frothing environment of The Gold Coast. Nowhere on Earth is quite as intense when it comes to crowds, parties, world class surf and ultra competitive line ups.
The place just buzzes at contest time and beaches, pubs, clubs, casinos and line ups overflow with surfers and surf fans alike. It's probably the busiest venue for surf fans on the beach and the apres surf scene is off the hook. So if you ever fancy visiting one surf contest in your lifetime this is a pretty good one to be at.
[part title="The Venues"]
The event is mobile, but is only likely to move if the ridiculously good sand point of Snapper Rocks isn't working for some reason. The wave at Snapper is perfect, a fast sucky take off behind the jump rock leads to a solid barrel section. Make that and the wave races off serving up sections for airs, open faces for turns and more barrels. It's one of the best waves in the world.
If for some odd reason it doesn't break they have three backups, D-Bah if it is just too small, Kirra or Burleigh Heads if the swell is big enough or the sand isn't quite right at Snapper. If it ends up at Kirra, as it did last year it becomes a barrel fest.
Kirra Free Surfing:
[part title="Who are the favourites - Men"]
The event has only ever been won once by a goofy footer, Mick Lowe, some nine years ago. So it's no surprise that if you're a betting person then you want to back a regular footer, in fact if the last eight years are anything to go by just bet on one of four guys. Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow and locals Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning have monopolised the event.
But these guys are almost considered the old guard now and there are a hungry pack of youngsters waiting in the wings. John John Florence and Julian Wilson seem poised to have a run at a world title this year and don't be surprised if they come out of the blocks fast.
This potential could signal the change of the world order starting at The Quiksilver Pro. Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson have held off the charge of the new generation. The three 'veterans' have won the last three world titles and have dominated at Snapper Rocks and Kirra. But it could be time for a change
How the likes of Julian Wilson, John John Florence and the raft of hungry youngsters perform could well set the pace for the rest of the year. But you just can't rule the contest savvy and high performance old guard out just yet.
[part title="Who are the favourites - Women"]
The women's event, like the men's seems to be between four girls. World champion Carissa Moore knows she has some very stiff competition this year and is going to need to come out flying. Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright are both in the hunt for a first world title and will put up stiff competition.
Then There is Stephanie Gilmore, after an indifferent season last year, and having won three of the last five Roxy Pros she is going to be one to watch. Outside of these four Courtney Conalgue will also be one to watch.
[part title="How to watch the event"]
Both tours are broadcast live on the internet. It's as easy as logging into www.aspworldtour.com and following the link to the webcast. Only trouble for us in Europe is the time difference. If you want to watch the event, and you will want to watch it, it means an all nighter.
There are three ways to go about this, sleep in the day vampire style, have a serious caffeine supply or get into the spirit of things and like many, order a local brew. Sadly the most local brew is Castlemaine XXXX, not the greatest.
[part title="The Format and Forecast"]
Unlike any other sporting event, surf events have a 12 day holding period. During that period each event needs about three days of good surf to complete the event. So you have to tune in every day to see if it's on or not, before you settle down to enjoy.
As it stands four days out from the start, the swell is looking like there could be an early start, with a peak in the first swell on Monday or Tuesday, it isn't going to be big but enough to get things rolling, but not all the way to the final though. They will be hoping for more later in the holding period for that.
In the meantime here's last years final to get you amped. Remember to follow us on twitter, we'll be up all night watching every heat with you.
The 2013 Final Joel Parkinson v Kelly Slater: