Wooloweyah surfer's big comeback
WOOLOWEYAH’S Dan Ross has won the ASP 2009 World Qualifying Series thanks to his qualification for the quarter-finals of the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing tournament at Sunset Beach in Hawaii on the weekend.
On a day boasting record swell for the tournament, Dan went one better by making it through to the semi-finals with a score of 15.67 in the quarters – this score second only to Mick Fanning on 15.93.
Unfortunately, poor waves in the semi-final saw Dan knocked out with a score of 7.93. Aussie Joel Parkinson went on to win the final.
“When it’s big like that I feel like I can match it with any of them,” Dan told The Examiner yesterday from Hawaii, only hours after the final.
“In the semi I just didn’t get any good waves ... in those conditions it’s not the easiest to read.”
The series win tops off a year of steady climbing for the likeable Yamba legend, who last year dropped off the ASP World Tour.
The win further cements his reputation as one of the most dangerous surfers on the 2010 ASP Dream Tour and emphatically announces his comeback to the world’s elite.
The dedicated Aussie launched an absolute blitzkrieg on an international field of up-and-comers hungry to find their way onto the elite stage of the ASP World Tour.
Solidifying his position as a qualifier well before the end of the 2009 season, Dan soon attained the number 1 seed in bombing surf at the ASP WQS 6-Star PRIME O’Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach.
“There are a lot of surfers that do fall off the tour their first year and that shows how high the level of surfing and competitiveness is on the World Tour,” Dan said.
“You need to be so well-balanced and tuned in on all levels, physically, emotionally and mentally. For me this year, it was a mixture of hard work in all these areas, not just my surfing.
“I was focusing on learning and having fun with it all. It’s easy to get motivated when you are really enjoying what you do.”
Although Dan’s season on the ASP WQS was the polar opposite of his last qualification run for the ASP Dream Tour, Ross carried the addictive feeling of success as the crucial motivating factor on his 2009 campaign, where he absolutely dominated this year’s field.
“The last time I qualified it came down to the last event of the year the very last heat of the year,” Dan said.
“I needed to place 4th or better in a field of 100 and every heat was stacked with either World Tour surfers or Hawaiian specialists.
“The surf was huge and I made it to final. The feeling was unbelievable. I ran up the beach into a team of mates that were screaming and holding their arms in the air. I’ll never forget it. It was the best day of my life.”
The Australian powerhouse credits a more relaxed approach as a helpful factor in his sensational season, while maintaining his focus on victories.
“I have been focusing a lot on my coaching role within Red Bull and I guess that has taken the pressure off competing,” Dan said.
“I wrote down at the start of the year that one of my goals was to win two four or six-star events, purely for the fact that I wanted to get cheered up the beach and experience that feeling of winning, knowing that on that day you did everything in your power to come out on top.
No-one else could take it from you. That’s the feeling I have now from the year that I’ve had.”
Although Ross fell off the ASP World Tour after his rookie year, the young natural-footer is confident he has learned valuable lessons that will assist him with his 2010 campaign.
“I never saw my first year on tour as unsuccessful,” Dan said.
“I had made it onto the tour and was living the dream that I always had as a young kid.
“I was surfing well and having an amazing time travelling with a bunch of my good mates and people I idolise.
“Along with that comes the pressure of trying to do well and keep your spot amongst the best surfers in the world.
“With the seeding that I had from being the last qualifier, it was a difficult task. The only event that I had an okay seeding was in Brazil and I placed 5th.”
Now that Ross has won the ASP WQS, he’s looking forward to competing in the iconic Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach event – surfing’s longest running professional surf contest – where he will compete in front of friends and family.
“There is so much prestige and energy surrounding that event,” Dan said.