Julian Wilson, Mick Fanning, Danny Willis, Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore.
Julian Wilson, Mick Fanning, Danny Willis, Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore. Craig Sadler

Fanning ready to defend home surf

SURFING sensation Mick Fanning can think of no better way to launch his 2009 ASP World Tour campaign than with a win at home on the Snapper swell.

The 2007 world champion will take to the epic right-hand point break alongside reigning nine-time world champion Kelly Slater, when the Quiksilver Pro opens tomorrow in conjunction with the women's Roxy Pro.

“What better place to start than in your own backyard,” he said.

“You know the home wave and what's going on around town.

“It's always a huge goal to win this event.

“I love being at home with the crowd, and it's great to have that support.”

Two-time ASP women's world champion Stephanie Gilmore shares Fanning's sentiments on Snapper, with the Kingscliff superstar keen to put successive bad results at the Roxy Pro behind her, in her bid for a hat-trick of world crowns.

“Winning on home turf has to be one of the best feelings in the world, so hopefully I'll come out on top,” the 21-year-old said.

“This event is important to me because I'm making it one of my goals to go out and surf well.

“I think I expected good results in the past few years, but it was a lot of factors, especially a lot of nerves.

“Last year I was a little overwhelmed with everything that goes in the wake of winning a world title, but this year I've had a lot more time to take everything in and enjoy it.”

While Gilmore has struggled in the opening event of the tour since her victory in 2005, Fanning and Slater have shared the spoils at Snapper with two Quikky Pro wins a piece, after “King Kelly” edged out the fan favourite in last year's final.

Slater then went on to win an unprecedented ninth world title, while Fanning was forced to take a step back and re-evaluate his situation.

“It wasn't hard losing the title to Kelly, I just had to deal with myself,” Fanning said. “I didn't want to take a step back, but I had to.

“It wasn't a bad year at all, but rather a learning curve.”

Keen to shine once again on the world stage, Fanning warned Slater will have a target on his back after last year's domination, and that he will be in hot pursuit.

“He's got a lot of responsibility leading,” he said.

“It's a good place to be - chasing - I enjoy it.

Current ASP World No. 4 and 2002 Quiksilver Pro winner, Coolangatta's Joel Parkinson is also keen to knock Slater from his perch, as is Currumbin's Bede Durbidge, the current World No. 2.

Fellow Aussies Julian Wilson and Danny Wills have been granted wildcards to the 48-man event, while a third spot will be decided in today's trials.

“We've got some really good surfers from the area in the trial,” Fanning said.

“Luke Dorrington and Jack Freestone, for example, I've watched grow up over the years and they're great surfers.”

The men's trials will be staged in conjunction with the Roxy Pro Trials today, with the main events kicking off tomorrow.

Both competitions have a waiting period from February 28 - March 11.

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