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Rip Curl Pro Search gone in 2012

Slater was a crowd pleaser at the 2011 Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco. Joli

The Association of Surfing Professionals released its 2012 World Tour schedule yesterday, revealing that the Rip Curl Pro Search will be notably absent from the ASP World Title series next year. The seven-year running event will return in 2013, officials said.

"We are taking a year off from the front line of running the event and putting a solid 18 months into the planning of the 2013 Rip Curl Pro Search," said Neil Ridgway, Rip Curl's global advertising and promotions chairman. "To take the Search to the next level is always the goal. We do that every year, but following San Francisco and the twist it delivered to the surfing world we feel we need more time and care to really blow minds."

Since the contest's inaugural edition at Reunion Island in 2005, the Rip Curl Pro Search has become a mainstay on the elite tour and has consistently delivered exciting surf. Having the only ASP floating license on tour allowed Rip Curl to change locations year-to-year, leading the contest to Mexico, Chile, Indonesia, Portugal, Puerto Rico and earlier this month to San Francisco.

"The ASP administrators and surfers were definitely disappointed to learn that the Rip Curl Pro Search would be taking a year off in 2012," said the ASP's Dave Prodan. "The event is looked forward to every year, and without fail, they have scored memorable conditions since the inception of the event."

The event has been associated with a number of historic moments, including legendary waves in Mexico in 2006, the emergence of Portugal as a yearly event, the death of Andy Irons in 2010, and the crowning of Kelly Slater in 2010 and 2011.

"This event more than any other combines the discipline of professional sport with the traveling lifestyle and freedom surfers love. It needs to be nurtured so it grows better than ever," Ridgway said. "A year tending to it in planning is the right way to develop it."

The ASP currently does not have plans to substitute the Search with another event in 2012.

"At the moment, the ASP believes the ideal number of World Title events each year should range between 10 and 12," Prodan said. "As the Search will be returning to us in 2013, we won't necessarily be looking to 'replace' the event next season, but there may be additional events such as Fiji, etc. added to the schedule."

The 2012 ASP schedule marks the tour's return to Fiji after a three-year hiatus with the Volcom Fiji Pro, the company's first ASP World Title event. Controversial urban events the Billabong Pro Rio and the Quiksilver Pro New York, which made their tour debut this year, will return in 2012.

The 2012 ASP Women's World Title series will once again feature seven events, none of which are in Hawaii. The ASP reports that it will continue seeking additional events before the tour kicks off in February.

The ASP also released next year's schedules for the ASP World Junior, ASP World Longboard, ASP Masters, ASP Prime and ASP Star tours.

2012 ASP World Title Series:
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Australia (February 25 - March 7, 2012)
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Australia (April 3 - 14, 2012)
Billabong Rio Pro Brazil (May 9 - 20, 2012)
Volcom Pro Fiji (June 3 - 16, 2012)
Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay South Africa (July 11 - 22, 2012)
Billabong Pro Teahupoo Tahiti (August 16 - 27, 2012)
Quiksilver Pro New York (September 2 - 14, 2012)
Hurley Pro at Trestles USA (September 15 - 23, 2012)
Quiksilver Pro France (September 26 - October 6, 2012)
Rip Curl Pro Portugall (October 7 - 17, 2012)
Billabong Pipe Masters Hawaii (December 8 - 20, 2012)