The world’s top female surfers will have a steady eye trained on the Roxy Pro Trials next Monday, February 26, to see if yet another wildcard giant-killer will emerge to claim scalps in event number one on the ASP Women’s World Tour – the Roxy Pro Gold Coast.
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), now a 2007 ASP Women’s World Tour rookie, took the world by storm when she earned the Roxy Pro Gold Coast wildcard and went on to win the main event as a 17-year-old in 2005. Gilmore was granted an automatic wildcard into last year’s tournament as the defending champion; hence no Roxy Pro Trials were staged in 2006.
This year, the highly coveted opportunity to surf against the world’s best on one of Australia's best breaks will go to the winner of the field of eight Australian and four international trialists. The 12 surfers will battle it out at Snapper Rocks, the main Gold Coast tournament site, early next week.
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) has proved time and again that age and experience are no barrier to her enormous talent and the 16-year-old is expected to be one of the main challengers for the coveted wildcard.
“It is great to have the opportunity to surf in an event with such prestige and it’s also a tough trials line-up," Fitzgibbons said. “It’s definitely going to be no easy feat to win the trials and I would be over the moon to win the wildcard. It’s going to be a blast, I can’t wait."
The wildcard winner will dive straight into deep water up against seven-time world champion Layne Beachley (AUS) and another world ranked opponents in the opening round of the main event. “Competing against Layne and another one of the world’s best surfers would be a dream come true," Fitzgibbons said. “That heat would be a learning curve on tactics and positioning for waves.
“I am sure it will be fun and I’ll hopefully handle the atmosphere and the moment the best way I can," Fitzgibbons said. Laura Enever (AUS) is another whose recent form has been impressive with the 15-year-old breaking through for her first ASP Junior event victory earlier this month.
“To pit myself against the world’s best would be amazing," Enever said. “I’m just so happy I have been given the opportunity to surf out at Snapper with only a few other girls and be able to show the best girls in the world what I can do." Enever is in no way intimidated by the fact she is taking on one of the sport’s greatest athletes and is in fact excited by the prospect.
“It would pretty much be a dream to surf up against the world champ," said Enever. “I would probably be ‘frothing’ to the max and it will also give me the opportunity to pick up a few pointers as well as gain an invaluable experience you can only get when you surf in a world tour event."
Joining Fitzgibbons and Enever in the Roxy Pro Trials are Carissa Moore (HAW), Alize Arnaud (FRA), Pauline Ado (FRA), Ashleigh Smith (AUS), Airini Mason (NZ), Laurina McGrath (AUS), Rebecca Oakley (AUS), Sheridan Shields (AUS), Angela Keighran (AUS) and Lindsay Noyes (AUS).
The Quiksilver Pro Trials will also be staged at Snapper Rocks on Monday, February 26th with 16 surfers fighting for the chance to be included in the Foster’s ASP World Tour event. The US$80,000 Roxy Pro presented by Samsung will be staged in conjunction with the US$300,000 Quiksilver Pro presented by Samsung.
Both tournaments have waiting periods from February 27th to March 11th. The worlds top 45 men and top 17 female surfers will descend on the Gold Coast this month and all fingers will be crossed for a cyclone swell so the world famous “Superbank" stretching from Snapper Rocks all the way through to Kirra Beach can crank up the action.
Both opening world tour events are mobile, granting access to some of the best surf breaks on the planet. The tournament will be based at Snapper Rocks, yet it can travel from Stradbroke Island to Duranbah Beach on the Queensland/New South Wales state border in search of optimum conditions.
Venues such as Snapper Rocks, Greenmount, Kirra and Burleigh will hold priority, with visions of long, right-hand barrels filling competitors' minds in the lead up. All spots offer great viewing for spectators to soak up the phenomenal surfing assured to take place.