Now that Kelly Slater and Rob Machado have bowed out of the upcoming World Surfing Games in Huntington Beach, Oct. 5-13, it appears San Clemente's Shane Beschen will join the U.S. national team in the weeklong surf contest.
Beschen, ranked second on the World Tour, will be competing with Taylor Knox of Carlsbad. The two will be the only professional surfers representing the United States. When the contest was organized, Slater and Machado were the two professional surfers selected to participate. However, their involvement wasn't certain and both officially pulled out last week.
Slater, the Florida surfer who is world champion and ranked first on the World Tour, has been focusing his time and effort on the World Qualifying Series. And last week, Slater, 24, won the Roxy Quicksilver Surfmasters in Biarritz, France, beating Jojo Olivenca of Brazil in the finals. Slater has won six of the World Champion Tour events. Although Slater continues to build his lead in the WCT ratings, Beschen still has a chance to challenge, but he must win the remaining three WCT events.
The World Surfing Games are particularly noteworthy because Olympic officials will observe the competition to make a determination as to whether surfing should be included in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Jeff Booth of Laguna Beach will be back to defend his title at the Body Glove Surfbout at Trestles, which starts Sept. 16.
Booth will be challenged by some hot locals, including Beschen and Chris Ward, who was a finalist in the AirTouch Pro last month in Huntington Beach. In the women's competition, top-ranked Rochelle Ballard will defend her title.
The Trestles contest, which also includes bodyboarding and longboarding, is one of the more popular events on the Bud Surf Tour because of the spot's almost perfect conditions.
The contest concludes Sept. 22with the men's surfing and longboard finals.