World tour gets into gear

THE 2011 ASP World Tour officially kicks off tomorrow with the main event of the top 34 male surfers in the Quiksilver Pro and top 17 female surfers in the Roxy Pro.

The trials for both events will be held today at Snapper Rocks and the forecast looks promising with a south-east swell and winds.

But if the swell drops over the weekend, there will hopefully be enough push for Snapper tomorrow to begin the opening rounds. However, if it drops substantially on Sunday at Snapper, there is always good old Duranbah as the back-up venue.

There's a 10-day waiting period for both events if the surf is consistent. Organisers can run off both the men's and women's in five days, although this is looking unlikely with a distinct drop in swell by Monday and Tuesday.

The good news is that the Snapper sandbar is back after much sand pumping from the main outlet at Froggies helping to drop the much needed sand behind the ‘Rock'.

The favourable southerly winds of this week have also played their part in shifting the sand on to the take-off area and to create the perfect Snapper Bank, just in time for the world's best surfers.

Today's trials have a number of local surfers aiming for the ultimate prize of winning their way into the main event as only the winners secure a wildcard entry into round one where they will then meet the No.1 seeds like 10-time men's world champ Kelly Slater and No.2 Jordy Smith in round one of the men's and likewise in the women's against Kingscliff's four-time women's world champ Stephanie Gilmore.

Local male surfers vying for their chance to join the big league include 2003 winner Dean Morrison, Snapper club champ Jay Phillips, QCC winner Corey Ziems, QCC runner-up Thomas Woods, ASP Australasia junior champ Mitch Crews and North End's Chris Bennetts.

In the women will be Snapper's Brodie Doyle, the Cabarita-based Mason sisters Airini and Sarah, plus the Snapper club women's champ Winni Paul.

Defending Quiksilver Pro men's champ Taj Burrow will be pumped after his back-to-back wins at the Burleigh Breaka Pro, managing to hold off a rampaging Joel Parkinson and supremely fit Bede Durbidge.

Together with Mick Fanning and a second time around for Josh Kerr, the local guys will be keen to keep the title on home ground. There's some crazy new talent debuting on the men's ASP World Tour like Brazil's Alejo Muniz who comes fresh off a big six star win in Brazil and then there's the much-anticipated arrival of Coolum's Julian Wilson who is no stranger to Snapper Rocks, having beaten Kelly Slater a couple of times as a wildcard.

Wilson is touted as a potential world champ but can he pull this off in his very first year on tour?

A win at Snapper would give him a huge heads up.

Lennox Head's Owen Wright is another new young gun ready to smash the status quo in his second year of the tour. The ‘Spiderman' of surfing will bedangerous and could cause some upsets on his way to seeking a world title.

South Africa's Smith will be ready for another world title tilt but his Californian adversary Dane Reynolds is out with a knee injury until Bells.

But the ultimate worry for all the top 34 will be Slater who at 39 will gauge this year by his performance at Snapper.

Kelly's provoking mind games keep the rest of the pros on their toes guessing what he will do next – will he retire after Snapper, what's his latest board or what's his latest manoeuvre?

The world's greatest ever competitor will no doubt draw plenty of interest from the spectators and the pros alike.

In the main event of the women's draw, defending Roxy Pro champion Gilmore will be keen to resume her competitive career after suffering a broken wrist from an unprovoked attack in December.

The Tweed Coaster's ambition to seek a fifth world title will be tested evenly by the ever-improving talent of world-rated women surfers.

Kiama's world No.2 Sally Fitzgibbons will be hoping to break the bridesmaid tag while Hawaii's Carissa Moore will be super focused on the No.1 position after a fairly ordinary debut year, despite winning only one WCT event last year.

Here's hoping for pumping waves.

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