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SA's Emslie qualifies for elite WCT

South African Greg Emslie has qualified for a place on the 2004 World Championship Tour (WCT), the elite circuit of events contested by the world's top 45 surfers. İREUTERS/Pierre Tostee

Surfer Greg Emslie on Sunday qualified for a place on the 2004 World Championship Tour (WCT), the elite circuit of events contested by the world' s top 45 surfers that determines the annual Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) annual world champion. Emslie, 27, who spent four years as a WCT campaigner before slipping to 38th in 2002 and failing to re-qualify for the 2003 season, was elated to receive confirmation from Hawaii on Sunday morning that his 20th ranking on the 2003 World Qualifying Series (WQS) was sufficient for him to rejoin the highest ranks of international competition. I'm over the moon... even more happy than the first time I qualified (for the 1999 season) as this year has made me realize what I miss out on by not being part of the top level of the sport," exclaimed a delighted Emslie on hearing the news. "I'm really looking forward to next year," he continued, "I have big goals and plan to make sure that my sponsors are happy and I especially want to make South Africa proud of having a representative on the WCT." According ASP Africa General Operations Manager, Colin Fitch, having a representative on the WCT circuit is a huge boost for surfing in South Africa. "Having Greg qualify for the 2004 WCT circuit is great for local surfing,² said Fitch, "Like Ernie Els in golf, Wayne Ferreira in tennis and other top athletes whose exploits provide huge publicity for their sport in South Africa, he can now inspire the up and coming locals to go out and challenge the world's best themselves." Emslie competed on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) during 2003, reaching the final of his first event in Brazil in February followed by a number of quarterfinal finishes in events on all five continents to accumulate 7817 points from his best eight results to end the year ranked #20. With the top 27 of the 45 on the WCT re-qualifying for the following year, along with the top 15 from the WQS ratings and three ASP wildcards, Emslie had to wait for results in the final event of the WCT season, the X-Box Pipeline Masters currently running in Hawaii, before being assured of qualifying. Second round losses at Pipeline by tour veterans Flavio Padaratz (Brazil) and Shane Powell (Aus) meant that Emslie could no longer be overtaken and has now officially captured a place amongst the world's elite surfing exponents for 2004. The provisional WCT schedule for next year sees Emslie kick off his campaign in the sub tropical points break of Queensland, Australia, at the beginning of March, followed by Bells Beach near Melbourne at Easter and then the two events in the South Pacific, on Fiji and Tahiti, in May and June. July sees him in home waters at Jeffreys Bay and then its off to Trestles in California and a break still be named in Japan in September, SW France(Anglet) and Northern Spain (Mundaka) in October, Brazil (Florianopolis) in November and the two season ending events in Hawaii at Sunset Beach and Pipeline - in late November and December. The 12 event 2004 circuit, to be officially known as the Fosters Men's World Tour after the Australian brewer added surfing to its global sports sponsorship properties, will be worth a total of US $3 million with winner of each event collecting $30 000.



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