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Monday, October 1, 2007
Taj Prepped For Billabong Pro Mundaka


Billabong Pro Mundaka
ASP World Championship Tour Event #8
Mundaka Basque Country
October 2-14, 2007

Mundaka, Euskadi—The 12-day waiting period for the Billabong Pro Mundaka, Stop No. 8 of 10 on the Foster's ASP World Tour, begins tomorrow, October 2nd, 2007. With ratings leader Mick Fanning (AUS) capable of clinching his maiden ASP World Title in Mundaka, World No. 3 Taj Burrow (AUS) knows he has some work to do to keep his title aspirations alive.

"My plan is just to go all out and aim for a couple of wins over the next few events," Burrow said. "That's what it takes to win a title so that's exactly what I'm going to go for." Burrow finished runner-up to World No. 2 Kelly Slater (USA) in the 2003 Billabong Pro Mundaka final and secured a 3rd place result in 2002. Burrow and Slater need to finish within two rounds of Fanning to take the race to Brazil or beyond.

"I really have nothing to lose so I'm just going to go for broke," Burrow said. "Rack up a couple more wins this year and then if it's meant to be it's meant to be. I'm just looking forward to letting lose, surfing my best and trying to chalk up another win."

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Defending Billabong Pro Mundaka Champion Bobby Martinez (USA) would no doubt love another opportunity to win at the famed lefthand break, but he'll have to overcome South Africa's Ricky Basnett and inaugural champion, Mark Occhilupo, in Round 1 first. Occhilupo won the event in 1999, the same year he was crowned World Champion.

"Mundaka has a real special meaning to me," Occhilupo said. "I was the first winner of this event and have done well here before. It's just great to be back, even though it may be my last year." Occhilupo, the longest-competing veteran on the Foster's ASP World Tour, is sitting low on the ratings will not requalify next year. His accomplishments in the sport include a 1999 World Title and 12 elite tour wins—his last being the Billabong Pro Mundaka in 1999.

"I'm trying to apply for a wildcard for next year because I like the place so much," Occhilupo said. "I'm lucky because it's my own sponsor, Billabong, who organize the event. If I become a wildcard, I'll probably end up working at the contest and around the contest which would be great. I'd love to come back here to spend time with my good friends that I've met over the years."

Three-time World Champion Andy Irons (HAW) won the event in 2002, and despite only having an outside chance of winning his fourth World Title now that Fanning has amassed a sizeable ratings lead, is excited to be in Mundaka again. "It's so beautiful, the weather is so nice and I love the food here," Irons said. "It's just such a good time. I really look forward to it. Even though I'm a regular foot, I like this left."

Event wildcards for the 2007 Billabong Pro Mundaka include World Qualifying Series (WQS) No. 3 Tiago Pires (PRT), local surfer Hodei Collazo (ESP) and Tahitian sufer Manoa Drollet (PYF). Aritz Aranburu (ESP), who was a wildcard in the Foster's ASP World Tour event in France last week, has been given an injury replacement berth due to the withdrawal of Travis Logie (ZAF). Trent Munro (AUS) will surf in place of Damien Hobgood (USA) who is also injured.

Event officials are indicating that Round 1 of the event may run in nearby Bakio tomorrow so Rounds 2 and 3 can be run in good conditions forecasted to arrive in Mundaka on Oct. 3rd and 4th. An official call will be made at 8am in Bakio tomorrow.

ROUND 1 BILLABONG PRO MUNDAKA HEAT MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Troy Brooks (AUS), Michael Lowe (AUS)
Heat 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA), Ricky Basnett (ZAF), Mark Occhilupo (AUS)
Heat 4: Dean Morrison (AUS), Greg Emslie (ZAF), Trent Munro (AUS)
Heat 5: Pancho Sullivan (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Tim Reyes (USA)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Cory Lopez (USA), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 7: Andy Irons (HAW), Ben Dunn (AUS), Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) Kai Otton (AUS), Manoa Drollet (PYF)
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Hodei Collazo (ESP)
Heat 10: Taj Burrow (AUS), Michael Campbell (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 11: Taylor Knox (USA), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Shaun Cansdell (AUS)
Heat 12: Tom Whitaker (AUS), Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA), Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 13: Daniel Wills (AUS), Luke Stedman (AUS), Victor Ribas (BRA)
Heat 14: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Neco Padaratz (BRA)
Heat 15: Chris Ward (USA), Royden Bryson (ZAF), Leonardo Neves (BRA)
Heat 16: Bruce Irons (HAW) Phillip MacDonald (AUS), Bernardo Miranda (BRA)

The Billabong Pro Mundaka will officially start today, with the inaugural ceremony and press launch being held at The Casino at 10:30am, and surfing to potentially begin the next day...