Northern Star

Massive payday for open surfers

THE Hurley US Open has thrown down the biggest single pay packet in surfing history with a whopping $122,000 for first prize.

That's more than double that of an ASP WCT event with the dream tour winners looking at $36,000 each event.

The largest loot ever has turned the heat up on ASP, with now talk of a rival super series with more prize money, less surfers, less events and a longer waiting period.

It seems the 'sharks' are circling on pro surfing and somewhere in the mix is Kelly Slater who has been used, to an extent, to fire up a super series circuit with American ESPN network using only the top 16 surfers plus a number of wildcards.

The major focus on change is to grab a better TV deal like the major mainstream sports, as ASP are without a full on media deal, leaving it up to the sponsors and licensees to engage and control both media and running of the WCT events and staging live web casts.

The Hurley US Open is only a WQS event and at less than an exotic location but what it lacks in quality surf, it makes up with a cauldron gladiator-style atmosphere and the California crowds love a surfing spectacle.

The extra added prize money has dragged in the big names like Kelly Slater and Andy Irons and California's most liked pro - Rob Machado.

Irons, who has been on leave of absence to get his competitive act back, was in winning form yesterday. Kelly Slater also chalked up an opening round win and to see these two gladiators go head to head would be a promoter's TV dream.

Other notable Aussies to line up for the big one include 2007 WC Mick Fanning.

His Coolie mate Joel Parkinson, and odds on for this year ASP World Tour, has sidestepped the cash for more time with his family and to get fit again for the next WCT event which isn't until September at Trestles, California.

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GOOD news for Gossy, aka Shaun Gossman of the Snapper Surfriders, winning his heat to advance into the rd of 48 surfers at Huntington.

But not so good for both Luke Munro, currently 15th on the WQS, and Corey Ziems after good performances in the early round were bundled out in the rd of 96.

Mick Fanning and Jay Thompson are yet to compete.

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WHILE the ASP women's world tour doesn't resume until September for the Layne Beachley Classic at Manly Beach in Sydney, Currumbin's Sam Cornish is not waiting around and has taken up a position in the Australian team for the WISA titles to be held next month in Costa Rica.

Currumbin chiropractor and Kirra Surfrider member Matt Butel, a seasoned campaigner with the Australian team, will be joined by Palmy's Surfing Australia Head Judge Glen Elliot for the World Surfing Games.

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UNSEASONAL wet weather and onshore winds created a big upset for Tahiti's Tamaroa McComb competing at Keramas, Bali in the Billabong Junior Pro.

McComb was eliminated in the last heat of round one in poor surfing conditions, however Gold Coast surfers to excel in the earlier offshore surf included Snapper pair Ice Periera-Ryan and Eli Jacobs and Currumbin's Mitch Crews all advance into round three.

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