HONOLUA BAY, Hawaii (Friday Dec. 8, 2006) –Billabong Pro Maui wildcard Melanie Bartels (HAW) has ended Melanie Redman-Carr's (AUS) hopes of clinching her maiden world title at Honolua Bay today – this just one week after winning the previous ASP Women's World Tour event at Sunset Beach as a wildcard.
Bartels' earned 18.85 out of a possible 20.00 points in the six to 10 foot (two to three metre) conditions to post the highest heat total of the event and a spot in the quarterfinals. Redman-Carr earned an early exit, leaving the door open for six-time world champion Layne Beachley (AUS) and reigning world champion Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) to battle it out for the 2006 ASP Women's World Title.
"I came into this contest having nothing to lose and everything to gain — knowledge, extra time practicing out there with all the other girls – so I was just looking at it like a normal contest," Bartels said. "I didn't even think about the title implications, or taking out Mel Redman; I just wanted to surf well."
Bartels was a last minute invite to participate in the Billabong Maui Trials through which she earned her main event berth today. Her invite came courtesy of her strong contention for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title.
"The waves were so perfect; I think I had one of the biggest barrels of my life here today and it's just because of the contest," Bartels said of the 9.60 barrel she tucked into. "I'm stoked to be here and to have been invited."
Bartels, who was on the ASP Women's World Tour in 2004 and 2005, has qualified via the World Qualifying Series (WSQ) to be back on the elite tour next year. If her performances over the last couple of weeks are any indication, her previous battle with competitive confidence seems to have disappeared.
"I was nervous in the trials because of the waves and the conditions," Bartels said. "Heat by heat I just got more confidence and believed in myself more and more. In the last heat I knew I was up against Melanie Redman-Carr, she's a very, very, good surfer and I was just thinking in order for me to beat her I needed to go big. It's the only way I could win, so I tried my best and just went for it on every wave."
Beachley also went for it today, posting several waves in the excellent range (8.0 and above) in her Round 1 and 3 heats.
"It's a combination of the waves that I'm choosing and the confidence in the calm, relaxed manner in which I'm surfing," Beachley said of her success at Honolua today. "When I pulled into that barrel in the first wave of that heat I was just inside this massive cavern thinking 'I'm coming out of it.' There was no apprehension, no anxiety, no nerves, just full confidence and love of surfing Honolua Bay."
Beachley could have wrapped up world title No. 7 at the ASP Women's World Tour event in Sunset Beach last week, but a semifinal loss combined and a finals berth by Georgeson trumped that chance.
"Leading into this I was a little bit nervous," Beachley said. "Sunset [Beach] was a good lesson for me because I had opportunity there and I blew it, now I realize that it just comes down to me and the ocean and just being in tune with Mother Nature – that's how it's been today and I hope it continues tomorrow, or whenever we finish the final day."
Georgeson, who won her 2005 World Title on the last day of ASP Women's World Tour competition last year, has won the Billabong Pro Maui two years running. If she and Beachley win their quarterfinal heats, they will meet in the semis. If Beachley wins, the title is hers, if Georgeson wins and finishes the event 1st or 2nd, she will earn back-to-back ASP Women's World Tour titles.
"I'm just trying to get through each heat; I'm really excited I'm still going," Georgeson said. "I don't know who I'm up against next, but I'm hoping it's Layne because I have to finish two places ahead of her to win the title. It's almost better that I meet her now. If I get through, I get through and it's done with and if I don't, I've created my own fate, so we'll see what happens."
The current World No. 3 was a late season factor in the title race; she came from behind last year as well.
"This is starting to feel like my race last year with Sofia," Georgeson said. "My year had started off slow but toward the end of the year I gained a little bit on her. I really liked being behind and going for the chase, so it's really good that it's the same scenario this year. I'm a little bit more behind, but it's the same sort of feeling. It creates more of a challenge for me, and pushes me more."
Sofia Mulanovich (PER) and Rochelle Ballard (HAW) both earned perfect 10s in the idyllic Honolua Bay conditions today.
Serena Brooke (AUS), Julia Christian (USA), Heather Clark (ZAF) and Samantha Cornish (AUS) were eliminated today and will not qualify for the 2007 ASP Women's World Tour. Trudy Todd (AUS) who did not compete today, has also finished outside of the qualifying window.
Charts indicate a drop in swell for tomorrow with bigger conditions slated to arrive for Sunday, but an official call on competition status will be made tomorrow morning at 7am.
Billabong Pro Maui Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) vs. Keala Kennelly (HAW)
Heat 2: Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) vs. Chelsea Georgeson (AUS)
Heat 3: Layne Beachley (AUS) vs. Rebecca Woods (AUS)
Heat 4: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) vs. Melanie Bartels (HAW)
Billabong Pro Maui Round 3 Results: 1st to Quarterfinals; 2nd finishes Equal 9th
Heat 1: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 15.50 def. Serena Brooke (AUS) 5.50
Heat 2: Keala Kennelly (HAW) 18.50 def. Megan Abubo (HAW) 6.35
Heat 3: Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 12.90 def. Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 11.50
Heat 4: Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 14.30 def. Paige Alms (HAW) 12.00
Heat 5: Layne Beachley (AUS) 18.40 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 4.50
Heat 6: Rebecca Woods (AUS) 12.80 def. Samantha Cornish (AUS) 11.75
Heat 7: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 16.15 def. Heather Clark (ZAF) 14.25
Heat 8: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 18.85 def. Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) 15.85
Billabong Pro Maui Round 2 Results: 1st & 2nd to Round 3; 3rd to finishes Equal 17th
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.00, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 8.75, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 6.50
Heat 2: Keala Kennelly (HAW) 14.90, Melanie Bartels (HAW) 13.35, Julia Christian (USA) 8.15
Billabong Pro Maui Round 1 Results: 1st & 2nd to Round 3; 3rd to Round 2
Heat 1: Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 15.50, Megan Abubo (HAW) 9.26, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 8.30
Heat 2: Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 13.00, Serena Brooke (AUS) 9.65, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 2.25
Heat 3: Paige Alms (HAW) 9.90, Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 8.50, Keala Kennelly (HAW) 0.0 (no show)
Heat 4: Layne Beachley (AUS) 18.60, Heather Clark (ZAF) 12.25, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 8.25
Heat 5: Samantha Cornish (AUS) 10.50, Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) 6.75, Melanie Bartels (HAW) 0.20
Heat 6: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 9.0, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 4.50, Julia Christian (USA) 2.0