HONOLUA BAY, Hawaii (Thursday Dec. 7, 2006) –A finale of epic proportions will take center stage at the Billabong Pro Maui, the last of eight events on the 2006 ASP Women's World Tour, starting tomorrow, Dec. 8, 2006.
Former six-time world champion Layne Beachley (AUS), reigning world champion Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) and the winner of the first three events on the 2006 tour, Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS), will go head to head at Honolua Bay for the most sought-after trophy in women's surfing.
The three way hunt for the 2006 ASP Women's World Tour title, which will transpire in the best two days of surf on offer between Dec. 8 - Dec. 21, is led by Beachley. The current world No. 1 was the only surfer in contention for the crown who could have clinched during last week's elite level event held at Sunset Beach, Oahu.
"That was my whole intention, to keep it wide open and let Chelsea get closer to us so we could have a three-way battle in Maui," Beachley joked after the semifinal elimination which cost her the opportunity to wrap up title No. 7 in Sunset Beach last week. "It'll be fantastic to have the title race go down to the wire in Maui. I've won four out of six world titles there and I know how to perform under that kind of pressure."
Georgeson, who is the defending 2004 and 2005 Billabong Pro Maui champion, also wrapped up her ASP Women's World Title at Honolua Bay last year. Redman-Carr was eliminated by Georgeson in the semifinal round of the Billabong Pro Maui in the same event.
An eight woman trials contest will run in two heats with the winner of each heat earning a wildcard into the Billabong Pro Maui. The trialists in Heat 1 are: Paige Holmes (HAW), Megan Apo (HAW), Monyca Byrne-Wickey (HAW) and Stephanie Gilmore (AUS). The trialists in Heat 2 are Melissa Proud (HAW), Lipoa Kaheleuahi (HAW), Airini Mason (AUS) and Melanie Bartels (HAW).
Bartels and Gilmore earned last minute Maui trials invitations after earning main event berths through the Sunset Beach trials last week and then finishing first and second in the elite tour event respectively.
Gilmore, who also finished second in Haleiwa, Hawaii, now leads the Van's Triple Crown of Surfing series – a Hawaiian big wave riding trifecta which wraps up with the Billabong Pro Maui. Bartels is rated third on that series. Both have a legitimate shot at the Vans Triple Crown title should they make it into the main event in Maui.
Gilmore won the ASP Women's World Tour event in Sydney prior to Bartels taking out last week's tour stop at Sunset. In short, wildcards have won the last two events on the ASP Women's World Tour. Both Bartels and Gilmore have qualified for the 2007 ASP Women's World Tour.
World Title Possibilities at the Billabong Pro Maui are as follows:
• Layne can win on 17th, 9th or 5th only if Mel doesn't make the semis and Chelsea doesn't make the final.
• She can win with a 3rd place only if Mel doesn't make the final and Chelsea doesn't win the event.
• She can win with a 2nd place only if Mel doesn't win the event (1st place). Chelsea is out of contention.
• She can win with a 1st place regardless of Mel or Chelsea's results.
• Melanie MUST make the semi-finals to be in contention
• She can win with a 3rd place only if Layne doesn't make the semis and Chelsea doesn't make the final.
• She can win with a 2nd place only if Layne and Chelsea neither win the event.
• She can win with a 1st place regardless of Layne or Chelsea's results.
• Chelsea MUST make the finals to be in contention.
• She can win on a 2nd place only if Layne doesn't make the semis and Mel doesn't win the event.
• She can win on a 1st place only if Layne doesn't make the final as Layne would beat her with a 2nd place.