HONOLUA BAY, Hawaii (Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006) - Tour rookie Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) has defeated Keala Kennelly (HAW) to win the final event on the 2006 ASP Women's World Tour, the Billabong Pro Maui, in excellent four to six foot (two metre) surf in Honolua Bay today.
Miley-Dyer beat just-crowned 2006 World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS) in the semis enroute to her final against Kennelly. She has finished her rookie season No. 4 in the world – the three surfers above her were all world title contenders.
"I'm still tripping!" Miley-Dyer said. "I'm just so stoked to have been able to surf against Layne, she's won seven world titles, so to surf against her and manage to get all the good waves in that heat and then make the final and get another chance to surf Honolua with one other girl out… well, it was just amazing."
Miley-Dyer lead the majority of the 30-minute affair, though Kennelly tucked into a tube that could have changed things with just seconds to go.
"KK had this amazing wave at the end; if she would have come out of that barrel she would have beat me for sure," Miley-Dyer said. "I caught the wave behind it, turned around and my heart just dropped down to the floor thinking, 'She just beat me in the last second of the heat.' I don't even know what to think, I'm just so excited."
Miley-Dyer has had a banner year across all ASP disciplines.
"I'm really stoked," Miley-Dyer said. "I started off the year really well winning the World Juniors and then when I wasn't doing so well on the Women's Championship Tour I decided to do the World Qualifying Series and somehow managed to win that series too. When Silvana [Lima] got injured, I jumped up to earn 'Rookie of the Year,' so winning the final event too… I'm pretty excited. I was just hoping to requalify so everything else is a bonus!"
Kennelly, who jumped from 14th to 8th on the ASP Women's World Tour ratings with her Billabong Pro final showing was the in-form surfer of the event. The big barrels on offer at Honolua Bay were tailor-made to suit Kennelly's kamikaze style.
"I was just inches away from a 10.00 and claiming the whole thing," Kennelly said. "I was standing up to celebrate already so I got clipped in the head; I started celebrating too early but it's cool if I was going to lose, I was going to lose trying to get a 10.00! I'm lucky I got that bomb that came right at the end and I was able to get into it, if I would have just come out of that thing it would have been amazing. I had an amazing event, what a great way to end the year!"
Though she qualified for the 2007 ASP Women's World Tour, Kennelly has relinquished her position to pursue other endeavors.
"I'm going to be working on a television series on HBO," Kennelly said. "I got a part as a season regular on a show called 'John from Cincinnati.' I think it's going to amazing for me and amazing for women's surfing to get a more mainstream audience interested in the sport. When I'm not doing HBO and not competing in select events, I'm going to be doing some adventure and vision stuff with Billabong, kind of a Shane Dorian type of thing, just flying around the world and surfing the best waves. That's going to be way more my thing. I think when you put a time limit on me and I have the pressure of being judged, my best surfing doesn't shine through. It's going to be really good for me."
Despite donning the world crown for the seventh time just an hour before, Beachley bowed out of the Billabong Pro Maui in the semis.
"The bubble burst in the semifinals," Beachley said. "Once I found out that I was the champion, I could barely even concentrate in my quarter against Rebecca [Woods]. I was fortunate enough to pick up that first wave [for which she earned a 9.80], if I didn't have that, I probably wouldn't have won that heat."
Beachley, who has clinched five of her seven world titles at the Billabong Pro Maui, has never won the event.
"Going out in the semi I was just a little bit too relaxed and just not focused enough," Beachley said. "I was just really relieved that [the world title] was all over. It was just one of those heats where I was completely out of rhythm, but I chose the right heat to have that happen. I fell apart in the heat but I'm not beating myself up over it – I'm just grateful that I made it as far as I did and that I won the World Title. I am really proud of Jessie, but I thought Keala would have won this event for sure since she was surfing amazing for the entire contest. At least I lost the event to the winner."
Also finishing equal 3rd and cementing her spot on the 2007 ASP Women's World Tour with her best result of the season was Claire Bevilacqua (AUS). The second-year surfer was in jeopardy of not requalifying prior to her strong season-finale showing. She was beaten by Kennelly in the semis.
"I'm stoked on all the positive things that happened here, but I hate not surfing to my best ability and that's what really hurt out there," Bevilacqua said. "If I would have just taken it to KK the entire time, until the buzzer, I would have been happy to lose. It's like someone stole my mojo."
Sofia Mulanovich (PER), who was world champion in 2004, can now add the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title to her resume – and US$10,000 to her bank account. Mulanovich won the first jewel in the Hawaiian big wave surfing series, the Op Pro Haleiwa, finished 7th at the second, the Roxy Pro Sunset and clinched the Triple Crown title after her 3rd place finish in Maui put her at the head of the class.
"I'm stoked, ten thousand bucks!" Mulanovich said. "It's amazing – to win the Vans Triple Crown is one of the biggest honors ever – it's amazing to win in Hawaii. I had so much fun at Haleiwa and so much fun at Sunset. Maui was amazing too, I got comboed but it was still fun."
The ASP Women's World Tour will take a three month break. Competition will resume in February of 2007 on the Gold Coast of Australia.
Visit the media center on www.aspworldtour.com to access heat by heat interviews, audio grabs and high-quality images.
FINAL: 1st earns US$10,600, 2nd earns US$6,600
FINAL: Keala Kennelly (HAW) 14.25 def. Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS) 10.00
SEMIFINALS: 1st advances to FINAL, 2nd finishes equal 3rd
Heat 1: Keala Kennelly (HAW) 14.25 def. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 6.55
Heat 2: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 16.0 def. Layne Beachley (AUS) 4.65
QUARTERFINALS: 1st advances to the SEMIFINALS, 2nd finishes equal 5th
Heat 1: Keala Kennelly (HAW) 18.25 def. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 14.10
Heat 2: Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 15.OO def. Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 5.50
Heat 3: Layne Beachley (AUS) 9.8O def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 2.15
Heat 4: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 10.25 def. Melanie Bartels (HAW) 9.00
2006 Final ASP Women's World Tour Ratings
1. Layne Beachley (AUS) 6374 (2006 World Champion)
2. Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) 5802
3. Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 5797
4. Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 4440
5. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 4105
6. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 3794
7. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 3564
8. Keala Kennelly (HAW) 3516 (has relinquished her spot on next year's tour to pursue other interests)
9. Silvana Lima (BRA) 3408
10. Megan Abubo (HAW) 3398 (Places 10 and above automatically requalify)
11. Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 3312 (requalifies with Kennelly's withdrawl)
12. Samantha Cornish (AUS) 3218 (has been given ASP wildcard to compete next year)
13. Heather Clark (ZAF) 3180
14. Julia Christian (USA) 2834
15. Trudy Todd (AUS) 2244
16. Serena Brooke (AUS) 2232
17. Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 2142 (qualified for the elite tour via the World Qualifying Series)
Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Ratings
1. Sofia Mulanovich (PER)
2. Melanie Bartels (HAW)
3. Layne Beachley (AUS)
4. Chelsea Georgeson (AUS)
5. Claire Bevilacqua (HAW)
6. Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)
7. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
8. Rochelle Ballard (HAW)
9. Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS)
10. Rebecca Woods (AUS)