ITACARÉ, Brazil (Thursday, August 24, 2006) – Former world champions Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Layne Beachley (AUS) and Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) were the only top seeds not strewn about the messy surf at Praia da Tiririca, Itacaré today.
Round three of Billabong Girls Pro Brazil saw several proven surfers fall to less-experienced competitors in the shifty two to three foot (half to one metre) surf this afternoon.
Among the casualties was wildcard Maria Tita Tavares (BRA) who having surfed for six years on the ASP Women’s World Tour herself, has spent more time in the competitive arena than 23-year-old Georgeson.
Though the Brazilian wildcard was in form and gaining momentum after her five-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) win last week, she was unable to compete with Georgeson’s powerful backhand attack.
"I’m pretty happy and relieved at the same time. I knew it was going to be one of the hardest heats of this event,” Georgeson said. “Tita is almost unstoppable in these conditions and I just had to be confident and give it everything out there. It’s pretty testing conditions and definitely different to what we’ve been surfing all year. It was a good heat."
Georgeson who is currently sitting third in the world, will meet Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) in the quarterfinals tomorrow. With the shock elimination of Melanie Redman-Carr yesterday, both Georgeson and Beachley (currently rated second in the world) will be gaining ground on the ASP world ratings with every heat they make.
"I’ve been in this position so many times before,” Beachley said.” I used to study the ratings and work out how much closer I could get to whoever was in front of me, but at the end of the day we have five events left and there’s heaps of time for me to catch up to Mel. There’s also heaps of time for her to capitalize on the lead that she has.”
Beachley has other aspirations here at the Billabong Girls Pro Brazil.
“I’m not really focussing so much on trying to catch Mel, what I’m trying to focus on is winning an event because I haven’t done it for so long,” Beachley said. “That’s where I want to be—every time I compete in an event I want to be on the winner’s podium."
Beachley’s last ASP Women’s World Tour win was in Hawaii in 2004.
Mulanovich posted the event’s highest heat total (16.75 out of 20.00) in the final heat of the day. Opening her account with an 8.75 and then backing it up with an 8.00, even Jacqueline Silva’s (BRA) 7.75 and 7.00 (scores that would have won most any other heat today) were of no assistance.
"I knew it was going to be a hard heat because Jacque has been ripping the whole contest so I went out just trying to get the better waves and thank God I got a couple of lefts,” Mulanovich said. “I feel confident on my backside so I knew that was the time where I had to do it. Congrats to Jacque also because she got some really good scores too. In any other heat she would have been first by far but I was just lucky with the waves."
Mulanovich will now meet rookie Silvana Lima (BRA) in the quarterfinals.
"Silvana is such a good surfer, she’s been ripping in her heats,” Mulanovich said. “Actually, after Tahiti where I hassled her, she went ‘Just wait and see, you’re going to get it in Brazil!’ so it’s kind of funny that we have each other here. I’m just going to go for it."
The young Brazilian is the only countrywoman still in contention and will be fiercely backed by fans on the beach. This also marks her third quarterfinal showing in four events – she has yet to reach the semis.
"I’m feeling really confident because I feel at home here,” Lima said. “There are a lot of people on the beach cheering for me and I know my mom is watching live on the webcast so I’m feeling very comfortable and confident going into the quarterfinals. I feel like this is the right time for me to make it through."
Indications point to the quarterfinals, and quarterfinals alone, running tomorrow afternoon. A call on competition status will be made at noon tomorrow.
Logon to http://www.aspworldtour.com/billabonggirls/ for heat by heat breakdowns, images and more!
Round Three Results: (1st advances to the Quarterfinals; 2nd finishes equal 9th and earns US$3,000)
Heat 1: Julia Christian (USA) 12.35 def. Megan Abubo (HAW) 9.35
Heat 2: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 11.05 def. Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 10.75
Heat 3: Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 10.10 def. Samantha Cornish (AUS) 10.10
Heat 4: Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 12.35 def. Maria Tita Tavares (BRA) 9.50
Heat 5: Layne Beachley (AUS) 11.00 def. Serena Brooke (AUS) 9.75
Heat 6: Heather Clark (ZAF) 9.55 def. Keala Kennelly (HAW) 7.75
Heat 7: Silvana Lima (BRA) 14.75 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.50
Heat 8: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 16.75 vs. Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 14.75