SNAPPER ROCKS/QLD (Monday 14th February, 2011): SUPER grommet Matt Banting (Port Macquarie, NSW) has become the youngest ever surfer to receive a wildcard into the upcoming Quiksilver Pro presented by Land Rover on the southern end of the Gold Coast.
The sixteen year-old is preparing to be propelled into the big time, with his freakish talent securing him a position in the line-up of the season-opening Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Men's World Title event.
With style and power well beyond his years, Banting has been steadily making a name for himself among the Aussie junior contingency whilst making a bigger presence in the global surf scene.
Banting, who won the under 16 World Junior Surfing Championship in New Zealand as well as bagging the Quiksilver King of The Groms title in France in 2010, said it's the highlight of his career to date on hearing news of the coveted wildcard spot.
"I was over the moon when I found out that I would be competing in the main event," said Banting.
"It's the best thing I've ever heard. It's everything I've ever dreamed for as a young surfer coming through the ranks. I'm just stoked to get the opportunity." But the stylish natural foot said he's not daunted by the task ahead.
"I just want to surf well, be relaxed and show everyone I can do it," he said. “There's not too much pressure on me. I just want to have fun and surf well, and show everyone I can surf at this level."
For the first time in the history of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, the event will utilise the new 36-man format.
"There's a lot less guys and they can pick better waves for the event under the new format," said Banting. You don't get to face the top guys straightaway and get to work into a bit. Hopefully, I'll get a couple of good heats and get through a few rounds."
The wildcard winner said the prospect of taking on the 'big boys' was exciting.
"I really want to go up against Kelly (Slater), Parko (Parkinson) or Jordy (Jordy Smith). They have always been my idols and always looked up to them as a kid. I can't wait."
Rounding out the 36-man draw at Snapper Rocks will be the winner of the 16-man trials, to be held on Friday 25th February.
Former ASP World Tour surfers Dean Morrison (Coolangatta, QLD) and Tom Whittaker (Bronte, NSW) will lead a stacked field of potential giant-killers including Garret Parkes (Byron Bay, AUS), French surfers Marc Lacomare and Maxime Huscenot, 2010 Snapper Rocks club champion Jay Phillips (Fingal) and the cream of the Gold Coast including Corey Ziems (Currumbin), Thomas Woods (Coolangatta), Noah Lane (Burleigh Heads), Mitch Crews (Currumbin) and Chris Bennetts (Main Beach) in the Quiksilver Pro Trials.
Morrison said he was pumped when he was informed of his spot in the trials. "I'm so happy," he said. "Hopefully the waves are fun and the other competitors don't blow me out of the water too much. I'm a little nervous."
The Roxy Pro Trials will be staged in conjunction with the Quiksilver Pro Trials and will include the sister act of Sarah and Airini Mason (Cabarita), Rosy Hodge (South Africa), Bianca Buitendag (South Africa) and Felicity Palmateer (WA).
The Quiksilver Pro is presented by Land Rover and proudly supported by Events QLD, Corona, Olympus, Telstra, Nature Valley Muesli bars, Lipton Ice Tea, Red Bull, Power Balance, Sharpie, Suncorp, GCCC (Gold Coast City Council), CSGC (connecting southern Gold Coast), Gold Coast Airport, Pages, Coastalwatch, RBSLSC (Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club) and ASP International.
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover will feature the world’s best surfers from February 26 through March 9, 2011 and will be web LIVE via www.quiksilverpro.com.au The Roxy Pro presented by Land Rover will run in conjunction with the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.