As we roll into November, the ASP World Tour and ASP Women’s World Tour fire up with the running of the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil followed by the Movistar Classic presented by Rip Curl in Peru. Next week sees the culmination of the Oxbow World Longboard Tour in California and the Xcel Pro is underway at Sunset Beach, so it’s going off on all fronts.

Even though the Men’s field in Florianopolis has been ravaged by injury withdrawal, plenty of incentive for those in attendance. The recently announced change of format for next year has inbuilt incentives to make the Top 16 and Top 10, so every point counts in this, the penultimate event on the 2008 ASP World Tour. Solid performances marked the opening exchanges, with mixed results for the top seeds.

A mixture of top guns and battling underdogs posted the winning scores on Day 1 - Bede Durbidge, Fred Pattachia, Taj Burrow, Taylor Knox and Kai Otton leading the way, with Aritz Aranburu, Ben Dunn, Mikey Picon and Mick Campbell laying down polished performances to win through to Round 3. Obviously with so many missing from the front grid, the locals get a whopping share of the limelight, Marco Polo, Marcio Farney, Bettero Hizunome and Bernardo Miranda all joining Leonardo Neves in the winners’ circle.

C.J. Hobgood, winner of the Billabong Pro Mundaka a couple weeks back, finds himself cueing up in Round 2, as will another recent winner Adrian Buchan, who finds himself up against a guy who is not opnly on the comeback trail, but in qualifying frame, Raoni Monteiro. Of the 16 heats no less than 13 of the touring pros go head-to-head with Brazilian surfers, while Top 45er Rodrigo Dornelles comes up against South Africa’s Travis Logie and Heitor Alves surfs off against Ricky Basnett.

With Kelly Slater nailing ASP World Title #9, there is no number crunching at the top, but there is plenty on the bone for the boys in Brazil. Taj and Bede are grappling for the coveted ASP World #2 ranking. With current #3 Joel Parkinson missing from the field, Bede will most likely leapfrog into the Big 3, whereas not only was the Hang Loose Catarina Pro robbed of the top Brazilian seed, but Adriano de Souza would be rueing the timing of an injury that now threatens to derail his bid for Brazil’s long waited entry into the ASP World Top 5.

The re-introduction of Top 16 seeding benefits in ’09 brings pressure to bare on that junction, and with positive talk of the Top 8 or 10 securing year long Round 2 seeding rights in next year’s knockout format, there remains plenty of incentive to go deep into this event. Sitting within the Top 16, but just outside the Top 10 are Jeremy Flores, Kai Otton, Kieren Perrow and Fred Pattachia, while Taylor Knox sits just outside the bubble at #18.

With only two events remaining, the next battle lines are drawn in and around the Top 27 cut-off for automatic qualification. Dean Morrison is recovering from hip surgery and will miss his third concesutive event, and although he sits right on the mark at #27 guys such as Mick Campbell, Heitor Alves, Damien Hardman and Tiago Pires will be looking to surge inside the safety zone with a good showing at Florianopolis.

No shortage of built in incentive for making the long journey down to Brazil. Good luck to all.

In a couple days time the ASP Women’s World Tour roars back into action, the Movistar Classic presented by Rip Curl readying for a start in Mancora, Peru. In its inaugural edition last year, this event really went off, the waves pumped in the ever-reliable Peru and the girls strutted their stuff in front of a big parochial gallery.

Former ASP Women’s World Champion Sofia Mulanovich put herself in the box seat going into her home event by winning the Beachley Classic. The bonus 20% ratings points zoomed Sofia into outright #1, opening up a 463 point lead over arch rival and reigning ASP Women’s World Champ Stephanie Gilmore. At the Beachley launch Gilmore was keenly aware that not only was the next event in Sofia’s home country, where she enjoys rock star status, but the Peruvian will also be defending champion at the following event at Sunset Beach, Hawaii.

Well, this scenario unfolded, Stephanie got bundled out early by eventual champion, the 14 year old sensation Tyler Wright, while Sofia went on to score big points at the business end. But Gilmore has a penchant for promptly bouncing back. She was knocked early at Snapper before winning Bells and there is also the small matter of phenomenal expectation placed upon Sofia by her legions of fans at home.

Layne Beachley is another in the frame. The 7 times ASP Women’s World Chaqmpion, fresh from the emotional rollercoaster of not only announcing her retirement but hosting the event that honours her name, at her home beach, should be able to now put all that in a bottle and shelve it for future enjoyment, and get back to the business of surfing well and winning heats. Although not winning yet on the ’08 tour, Layne has been a picture of consistency, securing Top 5 every event and Top 3 on three occasions.

The Movistar Classic presented by Rip Curl presents an awesome opportunity for Sofia to stitch up the top spot leading into the final two events at Sunset and Honolua Bay, while it presents Stephanie, Layne and the rest of the field an opportunity to make up ground by at least making it through to the Semifinal stage of the tournament.

This will be a great battle, again.

Good luck to all.

Words: Bugs Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew, ASP Intl President