The 18-year world tour campaigner turned high profile business woman, had not won an ASP title in 18 months before storming to victory at the Billabong Girls Pro Itacaré in 2006, shooting to World No. 1 on the ASP ratings and setting herself up for an unprecedented 7th ASP Women's World Tour Title.
After a four month break in ASP World Tour competition, Beachley makes a welcome return to the powerful beach break waves of Praia da Tiririca to see if she can repeat her 2006 performance.
"I am looking to repeat the whole process, starting with turning my year around because I've had such an ordinary start to the season," Beachley said. "The incredibly long break has enabled me to re-examine my priorities and objectives and I think this event is significant for the resemblance it bares to where I was this time last year and the fact that I was able to turn my whole year around."
With equal 9th and 3rd place results in the first two events of the year, Beachley holds down the World No. 4 slot alongside Rebecca Woods (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA) and Samantha Cornish (AUS), and remarkably, is not feeling any pressure.
"I don't feel so overwhelmed by it," Beachley said. "I really enjoyed the break because I have so many things going on in my life. I am just looking forward to getting back to work and building momentum as I go. Tour life has reached the point where I feel like I'm on holiday and I am sure a lot of girls wish they had that luxury; that's just how it is for me because I work so hard in the down time."
With numerous business projects on the go, including the launch of her clothing brand Beachley Athletic, staging the richest event on the ASP Women's World Tour the Beachley Classic, as well as fundraising for her Reach for a Star Foundation, the surfing stalwart still manages to maintain her competitive edge.
"Everyone knows I stay on tour to win events and world titles," Beachley said. "My objective is to win but it's not the most important thing in my life. I am fortunate in that I still have the ability and the motivation to keep striving for that. However the further I get on in my career, the more I realize that I have nothing to prove; especially after winning my 7th World Title. Now is a really good time for me to be proud of what I've achieved, and just go out there and have fun and surf for the love of it, instead of putting that pressure on myself to win another world title. I can't do it that way anymore."
Beachley will make her 2007 Billabong Girls Pro debut in Heat 4, where she faces World No. 10 Megan Abubo (HAW) and World No. 17 Rochelle Ballard (HAW).
Emerging as a very real threat to both Beachley and the rest of the Top 17 Women is Nicola Atherton (AUS), who won the 4-Star ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) Billabong Girls Pro Itacare today.
Posting an excellent 9.00 ride in the final, Atherton defeated World No. 4 Silvana Lima (BRZ), World No. 3 Sofia Mulanovich (PER) and World No. 8 Amee Donohoe (AUS), to earn her second ever wildcard slot into an ASP Women's World Tour event.
"I am absolutely ecstatic," Atherton said. "I didn't actually know about the World Tour wildcard spot until yesterday so I hadn't been thinking about it. To be competing in the Billabong ASP Women's World Tour event here in Itacaré is just a really good feeling."
Atherton, who featured as a wildcard in the Billabong Girls Pro Tahiti in 2006, is no stranger to women on women heats and will take on ratings leader Chelsea Hedges (AUS), as well as local talent Jacqueline Silva (BRA) in Round 1.
"It's all hit me really suddenly but I'm excited to surf against Chelsea first heat. I've looked up to her since I was a grom (young surfer) and she's also from Sydney so I'm really looking forward to it."
The US$ 80000 Billabong Girls Pro Itacaré is expected to get underway tomorrow, when a powerful six foot (two meter) groundswell will deliver more chunky peaks for Stop No. 3 of 7 on the ASP Women's World Tour.
BILLABONG GIRLS PRO BRAZIL ROUND ONE MATCH-UPS
Heat 1: Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Samantha Cornish (AUS), Melanie Bartels (HAW) Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Jessi Miley Dyer (Aus), Caroline Sarran (France)
Heat 3: Chelsea Hedges (AUS), Jacqueline Silva (BRA), Wildcard (TBD)
Heat 4: Layne Beachley (AUS), Megan Abubo (HAW), Rochelle Ballard (HAW)
Heat 5: Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS), Amee Donohoe (AUS), Roseanne Hodge (ZAF) Heat 6: Rebecca Woods (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA), Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)