Mick Fanning picked up his first piece of silverware for the year without even dipping a toe in the water, as he was presented with the championship trophy for his 2009 ASP world tour triumph.
The ASP World Champions’ Crowning brought the sport’s top pros together under the roof of the Gold Coast Convention Center in Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia, to honor last season’s winners, including women’s champion Stephanie Gilmore, runners-up Joel Parkinson and Silvana Lima, and junior champions Maxime Huscenot and Laura Enever.
The fact that both Laureus World Sport Award nominees Fanning and Gilmore hail from the Gold Coast added further luster to the proceedings.
Former nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater, 38, presented Fanning with the trophy but later outlined his plans to get the title back this year, starting with the Quiksilver Pro which begins at nearby Snapper Rocks tomorrow.
"Everyone goes into the year wanting to win, we're not here to make up numbers." –Mick Fanning
"I would love to win this contest again, and I wouldn't mind having that (world) title again,'' said the two-time winner of the Quik Pro, before joking he might give Fanning a kick in the knee to give himself an edge.
"Everyone goes into the year wanting to win, we're not here to make up numbers," responded Fanning. "Obviously that's what I'm hoping for, at the end of the year to hopefully hold that trophy, but you've just got to take it day by day.
“Hopefully you do the prep in the off-season and have the right boards when you paddle out and have the right plan in your head when you're surfing.''
For Fanning, that preparation has included a week of intensive training with fellow tour pros Michel Bourez and Jordy Smith at Red Bull Project Air.
Last year, Fanning was locked in a tight battle for the title with his compatriot and good friend Joel Parkinson. The championship run-in marked a stiff test for their friendship, but both men were eager to keep it in perspective.
"It was amazing to be in that race with Joel but I doubt we'll be able to really understand just how huge it all was until we're a couple of old wrinkly men,” said the two-time champion.
“Things sure got a little intense toward the end but we just respected each other's need for space and played our own games. I know if we match up at any time in 2010 the rivalry is going to be intensified after last year, but at the end of the day we'll be mates forever."
The action gets underway tomorrow. You can follow the Quiksilver Twitter feed and visit the Quiksilver Pro site, and for full championship standings visit the ASP site and for action from the beaches, visit RedBullSurfing.com.