Rip Curl Pro Search - Chile

20 Jun 2007 0 Share

Reigning and 8X Foster's ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and three-time Foster's ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW) are accustomed to filling top spots in the ratings.

They will enter the Rip Curl Pro Search Chile an uncharacteristic 6th and 7th in the world respectively. The event is the 4th of 10 on this season's Foster's ASP World Tour and is being held in the North Chilean village of Arica from June 20 to July 1, 2007.

Slater, who was sitting with a mammoth ratings lead that saw him well on his way to earning his eighth world title by this time last year, hasn't won an event since early 2006. His 9th place finish at the last Foster's ASP World Tour event in Teahupoo was his worst result in years.

"I haven't really surfed an inspired year so far," Slater said. "I did pretty well on the Gold Coast but I haven't really been able to concentrate start to finish to put an event together for myself yet. Realistically I need to put a hundred percent toward the goal to win 10 world titles, but if I'm not going to put myself in the right place to win nine, I can't do that."

Slater has posted victories at every event on the Foster's ASP World Tour except the Rip Curl Pro Search. He arrived today, the day before the contest, and has yet to surf the contest break off Ex-Isla Alacran.

"Somebody asked me, 'are you really showing up and just expecting to surf this wave?' but I've surfed so many waves all over the world and this is the kind of wave I really like, I think it suits me really well," Slater said. "I've watched a lot of video of the spot and just going down there and watching it today, even though obviously it won't look the same tomorrow because it's going to get much bigger, I got a quick feel for it. It's not a huge lineup to learn."

Despite having yet to experience the power and flux of the lineup, Slater admits that his affinity for waves such as Ex-Isla Alacran will play to his advantage.

"It's like a beach break on a reef – a short, punchy little wave that's really hollow – the kind of wave I love," Slater said. "There's a right, a left and you've got to just look at the angles the wave is coming in on. When a wave comes in that's going to barrel, you can line the thing up and know where you need to be so that's not the biggest problem; the bigger problem is knowing where is the reef really shallow, where you can get hurt, that sort of thing. That's probably the biggest concern for all of us."

Irons, defending Rip Curl Pro Search champion, won his last world title in 2004. He sits just behind Slater on the ratings and both are expected to make a push in Chile given their prowess in conditions similar to those on offer.

"Well Kelly is a great surfer and he's been saying that he might retire for a while now, but he's here and he says he's ready, so I'm sure he'll go out there and make an effort,” Irons said. "Personally, I'm not approaching this event any different than I would any other. I kind of like not having the spotlight on me as it let's me slip under the radar a little bit."

Taj Burrow (AUS) is among the surfers headed to Chile with a bull's eye on his back; he currently sits in second place just below ASP World No. 1 Mick Fanning (AUS). Burrow, who finished world runner-up in 1999 and 2001, hasn't sat above both Slater and Irons on the ASP ratings for some time.

"It's different to see those two sit a little further down the ratings – I think they were kind of just cruising earlier this year," Burrow said. "For me it just seems the people that are the hungriest and most focused are ahead for that reason. I think myself and Mick are really trying the hardest out of anyone right now. Kelly, Andy and Joel (Parkinson) are huge threats and they could easily get on a roll any day now. It's going to be exciting for sure when it comes down to crunch time later in the year."

The 48-man format used by the Foster's ASP World Tour is generally comprised of the Top 45 and three eve

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