PRAIA DA TIRIRICA, Brazil (Thursday, Aug. 09, 2007) – After a four month hiatus in ASP Women's World Tour action, the world's Top 17 female surfers are itching to get back to business in the warm tropical waters of South America for the Billabong Girls Pro Itacaré Brazil.
In its second year, the Billabong Girls Pro, stop No. 3 of 7 on the 2007 ASP Women's World Tour, will return to the picturesque beach of Praia da Tiririca from August 20- 27, 2007.
Australians Chelsea Hedges (AUS) and Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) simultaneously hold the World No. 1 spot and their brewing rivalry is expected to escalate as the tour gains momentum in Brazil.
While Hedges won the first event on the Gold Coast in February, Gilmore claimed top honors at Bells Beach in April. Both girls earned equal 5th place finishes at the events they didn't win.
Hedges, a revered athlete and the 2005 ASP Women's World Tour Champion, is in fighting form despite not having donned a contest singlet in four and a half months.
"I've taken advantage of the four month break to train, get my boards prepared and surf good waves," Hedges said. "I'm excited and looking forward to getting back into contests."
Hedges made the Semifinals at Pria da Tiririca last year and will employ her experience at the break to better that result this year.
"Brazil is a very fickle wave but you really need to be confident in all types of conditions, whether its two foot or six foot," Hedges said. "Watching the conditions and where the best waves are coming through can make all the difference."
Conversely, ASP World Tour rookie Gilmore already has her game face on. The 19-year-old surfing prodigy is fresh off a victory at the 6-Star WQS event in Huntington Beach, California and will be looking to carry her surfing supremacy into Brazil.
"It's been a while since the last World Tour event so I went to the US Open to dust off the cobwebs and get into the singlet again before Brazil," Gilmore said. "I wasn't expecting a win there but I managed to pull it off so I'm feeling good. My boards are insane and I'm ready to kick things off in Brazil and hold on to that number one spot for the rest of the year."
Defending Billabong Girls Pro Champion and World No. 4 Layne Beachley (AUS) is unlikely to make things easy for the current ratings leaders.
The 7X ASP World Champion will no doubt be plotting a repeat of her 2006 performance, which saw her capture her first tour victory in 18 months and jump to World No. 1 on the ASP ratings.
Also looking to insert themselves into title contention will be 2006 Billabong Girls Pro runner-up Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS) and South Americans Sofia Mulanovich (PER) and Silvana Lima (BRZ). Each of the aforementioned surfers will be at home in the conditions.
Praia da Tiririca is renowned for its beauty and punchy beach breaks. Due to a constant movement in sand, caused by the Rio de Contas river mouth nearby, this break offers short hollow rides and a variety of playful peaks.
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)