BELLS BEACH, Victoria/Australia (Thursday, April 5, 2012) ? Joel Parkinson has been awarded the prestigious Rip Curl Pro Gold Pass.
Parkinson (AUS), 30, the 2011 ASP World Runner-Up and defending Rip Curl Pro presented by Ford Bells Beach winner, is the youngest-ever recipient of the Rip Curl Pro Gold Pass, joining an exclusive club of only 16 other surfers in the world who have been given this award.
The Rip Curl Pro Gold Pass ensures that the event?s greatest champions and supporters remain actively involved with the ASP?s longest-running surf contest. It grants the holder access to all areas of the Rip Curl Pro event site for perpetuity.
?The Gold Pass was designed to ensure that past champions and great contributors to the event remain a part of the Rip Curl Pro forever,? said Rip Curl Marketing Chairman Neil Ridgway.
The idea for the Pass came about years ago when Ridgway ran into former Rip Curl Pro champion Simon Anderson in the Winkipop parking lot during the event. When Ridgway invited Anderson to join him for a beer in the grandstands, the surfing great told him that he would love to, but that he didn?t have a pass to enter the event site.
?If Simon Anderson couldn?t get into the Rip Curl Pro, then something was very wrong,? Ridgway said.
The Gold Pass is normally awarded to surfers who have already retired from competition, but Rip Curl decided to make an exception in the case of Parkinson, a 5-time finalist and 3-time winner of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
?Parko is one of the smoothest surfers ever to hit the Bowl for the Rip Curl Pro,? Ridgway said. ?When he is on, he?s a wave magnet. He calls them up. We’re stoked to see him in the Gold Pass club.?
Parkinson was awarded his Gold Pass at a presentation ceremony held at the Rip Curl Pro presented by Ford event site at Bells Beach on Thursday.
?It?s an honor,? Parkinson said. ?When you look at the list of people who have received this award, you see it?s one of those rare things in surfing. It?s a huge achievement.?
Past Rip Curl Pro Gold Pass recipients:
2003: Brian Singer/Doug Warbrick/Simon Anderson/Rabbit Bartholomew 2004: Tom Curren/Wayne Lynch/Michael Peterson 2005: Jeff Hakman/Mick Dooley/Sunny Garcia 2006: Mark Occhilupo 2007: Nat Young/Kelly Slater 2008: Damien Hardman 2009: N/A – Michael Peterson collected his 2004 Pass 2010: Terry Fitzgerald/Layne Beachley 2011: 50th Anniversary, not awarded.
The 51st Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford will run from April 3 ? 14, 2012 and will be webcast LIVE via www.live.ripcurl.com, and broadcast live on Fuel TV in Australia and Portugal, ESPN in Brazil and MCS Extrême in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland, Africa and Mauritius. You can also watch the event live via the Rip Curl Live Events iPhone app, available free in the iTunes App Store.