SUNSET BEACH, Hawaii (Friday, Dec. 1, 2006) – Westside Oahu local and chance wildcard Melanie Bartels (HAW) has won the Roxy Pro Hawaii at Sunset Beach today. Surfing from the trials, Bartels' caught a wave with just 14 seconds on the clock to steal the lead from co-wildcard Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and win her first-ever ASP Women's World Tour event.
"I am so stoked, this is a dream come true for me," Bartels, who surfed on the ASP Women's World Tour in 2004 and 2005, said. "I was on tour for two years and never made it past the third round – not once, so to make the final and win here in Hawaii in front of my friends and family, well, it just seems like everything is coming together. I'm so happy."
Bartels, who has qualified for the 2007 ASP Women's World Tour via the World Qualifying Series (WQS), earned a last minute invite to compete in the trials when a previous invitee declined her spot. Finishing second in the trials, Bartels earned a main event berth when world No. 7 Silvana Lima (PER) withdrew from the event due to injury.
"I wasn't even in the event in the beginning," Bartels said. "Fortunately for me I got a call on Thanksgiving Day from Randy [Rarick] and he said that I had gotten a spot in the trials. I was really, really stoked, because I kept bugging him and bugging him, telling him how much I needed to be in this event because I think I'm one of the best Hawaiian's out there. It's like it was all meant to happen."
Until today, the Hawaiian was notorious for failing to translate her immense talent into competitive results, but beating Gilmore, Rochelle Ballard (HAW) and Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) respectively in the 30-minute heat, she's silenced the critics and any inner-doubt she may have had.
"I think something has clicked because even in the trials there were heats where I wanted to give up," Bartels said. "But as soon as that negativity came into my head, I went 'Think positive,' and that made me think that I still had a chance. I stuck to my game plan and turned that negative into a positive; it worked in every heat and I came out winning."
Bartels is anxious to apply her newfound momentum to the ASP Women's World Tour next year.
"For the first time I really believed in myself; I believed in my surfing," Bartels said. "I went, 'This might be my time,' you know, because everyone has their time. It was definitely my time today –
hopefully it will still be my time next year."
Narrowly losing the final to Bartels, Gilmore's second-place finish meant that wildcards went one and two in the Roxy Pro Hawaii today. Gilmore won the ASP Women's World Tour event previous to Sunset, the Havaianas Beachley Classic in Sydney, as a wildcard in October.
"Mel and I were paddling out and we gave ourselves a little high-five," Gilmore said. 'We went, 'Wow, it's pretty cool we both made it all the way from the trials so let's take it to the top and that's what we did. It's been a pretty incredible past couple of days."
Gilmore's second-place finish has seen her jump into the Van's Triple Crown of Surfing series lead as well as earn the Triple Crown Nose Guard Rookie of the year award. Had she paddled for the wave that Bartels caught to win the contest, she may have added Roxy Pro Hawaii champion to that list as well.
"I saw that wave coming and I could have caught it but I didn't think it was going to be any good," Gilmore said. "I didn't even see Mel paddle for it, so I just let it go and hoped there'd be a better one there behind it for me, but there wasn't. It's cool though, I'm just super happy for Mel because this will be a very good confidence booster for her and hopefully next year she'll be doing the same thing on tour – it's going to be pretty exciting."
Sunset Beach local, Rochelle Ballard, finished third in the Roxy Pro Hawaii event final, but was beyond happy for her Hawaiian counterpart Bartels.
"I was just super stoked to see Melanie do so well out there," Ballard said. "I've been in her ear for I don't know how many years, giving her little pep talks here and there. I just know she has so much talent, it's just a matter of her unleashing it, and she did today. It's just so great to see that."
Finishing fourth was last year's Roxy Pro Hawaii champion Chelsea Georgeson. Georgeson's final berth, combined with the semifinal exit of world No. 1 Layne Beachley and world No. 2 Melanie Redman-Carr, leaves her in contention to defend her world title in Maui next week.
Georgeson was quick to credit the Roxy Pro Hawaii wildcards who dethroned her today.
"It's awesome that the wildcards have taken over this year," Georgeson said. "I think Steph has won more money than anyone on tour this year and Mel has actually started trying and it shows. She's an amazing surfer and if she would have surfed like she did today last year she would have never fallen off tour. If she surfs like this when she gives it another crack next year she'll be winning a few more events for sure."
The Billabong Pro Maui, the final stop on the ASP Women's World Tour and the final jewel in the Van's Triple Crown of Surfing heads to Maui on Dec. 8, 2006. Georgeson, Beachley and Redman-Carr will headline the World Title battle at Honolua Bay.
Final Roxy Pro Hawaii Results:
Final: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 14.16, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.50, Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 4.20, Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 3.74
Semifinal Roxy Pro Hawaii Results: (1st and 2nd advance to Final; 3rd and 4th Eliminated)
Heat 1: Melanie Bartels, (HAW) 12.33, Chelsea Georgeson, (AUS) 9.07, Megan Abubo, (HAW) 9.07, Sofia Mulanovich, (PER) 4.33
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore, (AUS) 13.60, Rochelle Ballard, (HAW) 12.73, Layne Beachley, (AUS) 9.90, Melanie Redman-Carr, (AUS) 6.77
Quarterfinal Roxy Pro Hawaii Results: (1st and 2nd advance to Semifinals; 3rd and 4th Eliminated)
Heat 1: Sofia Mulanovich, (PER) 12.50, Megan Abubo, (HAW) 8.43, Keala Kennelly, (HAW) 6.27 Jacqueline Silva, (BRA) 3.90
Heat 2: Melanie Bartels, (HAW) 11.83, Chelsea Georgeson, (AUS) 10.73, Claire Bevilacqua, (AUS) 8.04, Samantha Cornish, (AUS) 5.26
Heat 3: Layne Beachley, (AUS) 11.67, Stephanie Gilmore, (AUS) 10.40, Jessi Miley-Dyer, (AUS) 8.74, Heather Clark, (ZAF) 4.37
Heat 4: Melanie Redman-Carr, (AUS) 9.27, Rochelle Ballard, (HAW) 7.63, Serena Brooke, (AUS) 7.04, Rebecca Woods, (AUS) 5.16
Top 10 ASP Women's World Tour surfers after the Roxy Pro Hawaii:
1. Layne Beachley (AUS)
2. Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS)
3. Chelsea Georgeson (AUS)
4. Sofia Mulanovich (PER)
5. Jessi Miley-Dyer
6. Rebecca Woods (AUS)
7. Silvana Lima (BRA)
8. Megan Abubo (HAW)
9. Rochelle Ballard (HAW)
9.Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)