Marlon Lipke: from the ASP World Qualifying Series to the Dream Tour

CAPBRETON, France - Marlon Lipke (DEU), 24, became the first German surfer ever to qualify for the ASP World Tour in 2008 after a year of consistent performances that led him to rank No. 16 on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS). Lipke, who finished the year one spot outside the qualifiers’ group, was awarded a wildcard by the ASP surfers rewarding him for all his efforts and results throughout the year. Lipke will start cutting his teeth against the world’s best surfers February 28 at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in Australia, along with a record six other European surfers led by French phenomenon Jeremy Flores (FRA), the biggest contingent ever to hit the tour and possibly confirm Europe’s new status as a leading nation of the sport. We caught up with Marlon for an interview on his year and the nerve-testing Hawaiian showdown before he was awarded the wildcard by his peers.

Age: 24
Resides: Algarve, Portugal
Sponsors: Hurley wetsuits and clothing, Oakley eyewear, Vans footwear, Nixon watched, X-Markets and Semente surfboards
2008 Highlights: 3rd ASP WQS 6-Star Prime Rip Curl Pro, 5th ASP WQS 5-Star Rip Curl Boardmasters, 5th ASP WQS 6-Star US Open of Surfing, 5th ASP WQS 6-Star Yumeya Billabong Pro...

1. Before anyhting, how does it feel to be invited by the surfers on next year’s ASP Top 45?

It feels great, it’s just amazing. It’s like a dream coming true. It’s even better the way it happened because I was just outside the ASP WQS Top 15 so I had already put it behind me. But at the last moment, I got the news from my brother. It will remain one of the best days of my life.

2. The Hawaiian events must have been very hard for you, ping from No. 9 to 16 in a couple of events? How did you live through this?

I was super stoked going to Hawaii ranked No. 9, but I had already worked out that the rest of the top guys could quickly push me out of the qualifiers’ group. Then it started in Haleiwa at the Reef Hawaiian Pro. I didn’t do well and all the guys behind me kept getting through and I ped back to No. 15 at the end of the event, the last spot to qualify. But I knew Phil MacDonald (AUS) who was right behind me, would only need to place 3rd in his heat at the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing to push me definitely out. It was a very hard time, I was very sad after Haleiwa and it took me a few days to come out of this testing time. I had Pat O’Connell, Greg Martin and Jay Thompson (AUS) supporting me a lot and they helped me get ready and amped for Sunset. We had massive waves there and I missed out the cut by very little, but I was still happy with my surf in the big conditions. I actually really enjoyed, it but I knew the Dream Tour was definitely gone for me so it did affect me.

3. 2008 was your best year ever on the ASP World Qualifying Series. What’s the feeling after such a competitive year?

I had a tough time in 2007 with bad results on the international stage even though some wins in smaller European events and I finished the year with no sponsor. So I was in this state of mind where you want to give the maximum and just unleash and enjoy the tour. It ended up well for me with 2008 turning into my best year ever, great results and on top of that, so much fun all year long. It couldn’t have been any better actually!

4. You are the first German surfer ever to qualify for the ASP World Tour, does it mean a lot?

I haven’t really thought about that yet. I don’t even realize I really will be surfing on the ASP World Tour this year. I think it will take a bit more time until I get the bigger picture and start feeling it more realistically. But it is something unbelievable for sure, for German surfing, Portuguese surfing (Marlon was raised and lives in the South of Portugal) and European surfing with seven of us being on tour. It is just amazing.

5. Any plan to prepare the big start on the Gold Coast?

This is something else I haven’t thought about yet, but I believe I will get the usual things going and some serious training with my mate Gony Zubizarreta (ASP WQS Top 50 surfer) and our coach Sylvain Frei. I think I have to work on a whole new quiver and think about changing my approach and surfing a bit. I can’t really say what direction I need to go, but I have a couple of months to find out so no panic.

6. Putting so much energy into your career and missing out by one spot. What do you learn from this?

I felt very bad the way it ended because it seems like that No. 16 rank is the hardest one to live with. But I kept thinking about it and felt like after all, that position would give me the opportunity to surf a few ASP World Tour events in 2009 and it helped me being more positive and realize that all the time and investment were significant. But I must say that the first thing that comes to your mind is that your world collapsed and that you better quit and start with something new in life.

7. Now that it’s all guaranteed, what goals do you have?

Without having thought about it too much, I would say my main goal will be to make it to the Top 27 at the end of the year while gaining as much experience as possible. The idea for my rookie year is to get a clearer picture of what the Dream Tour really is, and possibly find the key to establish myself in there.

8. What events are you looking forward to in 2009? Any preferences?

I am looking forward to all events in 2009. One of the major things I learned in 2008 is that you cannot expect anything from this or that specific location. Last year, I did well at all events I thought I would do bad and vice-versa. So I will just take it as it comes and ready well enough. I must say I still have to train and get experience on the hollow reef breaks of the tour.

9. Anything you want to add? People you want to thank?

I want to thank all the sponsors that helped me out so much and will be there again in 2009 - Hurley, Oakley, Vans, Nixon, X-Markets and Semente. I also want to thank Pat, Adrian, Jay, Greg, Q-Ball, Sylvain, Gony and his family. My parents of course and my brother Melvin, Lars, Matt, George, James, the Red Eye bar and the SurfExperience! Thanks all!