SANTANDER, Spain (Sunday, Sept. 2, 2007) – The ASP Women's World Tour battle resumes in the Northern Hemisphere this week, where ASP World Champions will be looking to set the record straight during Stop No. 4 of 7, the Rip Curls Girls Festival in Santander, Spain (Sept. 4- 9, 2007).
Two of female surfing's most prominent figureheads – 2005 ASP World Champion Chelsea Hedges (AUS) and 7X ASP World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS) – will start the event off their individual back feet, sitting at 3rd and 7th on the ASP ratings respectively.
Hedges, who shared the ASP ratings lead with Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) for most of 2007, has suffered a number of setbacks over the past week, including losing her World No. 1 spot to Gilmore in Brazil.
"I was pretty disappointed and frustrated in Brazil especially since I felt like I was surfing really well," Hedges said. "Luckily we still have four events left and a lot can happen."
"If you look at the ratings it is pretty close between all the girls and it makes it really exciting," Hedges continued. "I've just got to stay motivated and I'm looking forward to trying to get that World No. 1 spot back in Spain."
When Hedges paddles out for her first heat against Jacqueline Silva (BRA) and wildcard Alana Blanchard (HAW) during Round 1 at the Rip Curl Girls Festival, it will be her first surf in over a week.
Hedges received five stitches to the left side of her nose from a free surfing injury which, while keeping her out of the water has increasingly fueled her need to get back in it.
"I'm not really fussed," Hedges said. "I've kept up my training and if anything, it has just made me hungrier to get back to it."
Beachley, like Hedges, is eager to get her feet back on her board in Spain after an uncharacteristically slow and inconsistent start to the season.
"The first half of the year hasn't gone the way I'd wanted it too," Beachley said. "Now I am in a position of pressure which I tend to relish, so I am looking forward to the waves breaking here in Spain and re-cementing my position as a world title contender."
Beachley has felt the sting from the insurgence of 'new guard' surfers on tour this year, including wildcard Carissa Moore (HAW), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) Silvana Lima (BRA,) all of whom have kept surfing's most prolific female star at bay.
"There was a lot of attention placed on the new faces last year and many of them crumbled," Beachley said. "Well this year I think they've found their feet! Chelsea's had a world title so she's hungry for another one and Stephanie's come through and performed under the pressure."
"It's a really competitive climate at the moment with the teenagers having nothing but the desire to smash me," Beachley continued. "I'm just trying my best to stay in touch with it all."
At World No. 7 Beachley is in no eminent danger of meeting any of the young guns too early on at this event.
Hedges however, will have to contend with the potential potency of wildcard Alana Blanchard (HAW) who won the Rip Curl Pro Junior Girls division on Sunday.
Blanchard, who competes extensively in the Pro Junior series, will make her debut on the top tier tour this week, thanks to her wildcard entry.
"I am really excited," Blanchard said. "I have always wanted to surf on the World Tour, but I didn't really expect that I would get the chance so soon. Surfing against girls like Steph [Gilmore] and Layne [Beachley] is going to be a great experience for me and I'm going to learn a lot from it."
The US$ 80,000 ASP Women's World Tour competition is the anchor event of the nine-day Rip Curl Girls Festival which includes a Pro Junior girls event, surf clinics, yoga, music concerts and more.
"Our idea was to combine every aspect of women's surfing that we've been working on for the last 5- 6 years, into a single surfing festival," Franck Goudou, Sports Marketing Manager for Rip Curl Europe, said. "We wanted to bring something strong into Spain because it is a rapidly emerging market and we are looking forward to seeing some world-class surfing from the Top 17 girls at Liencres."
The excellent beach breaks of Liencres as well as it's proximity to the beautiful city of Santander, have provided the ideal locale for an event of this nature.
The waiting period for the Rip Curl Girls Festival, Santander, Spain extends from September 4- 9, 2007 and needs just two full days of surfing to be completed.
RIP CURL GIRLS PRO ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus); Sofia Mulanovich (PER); Melanie Bartels (HAW)
Heat 2: Samantha Cornish (AUS; Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS); Caroline Sarran (FRA)
Heat 3: Chelsea Hedges (AUS); Jacqueline Silva (BRA); Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 4: Layne Beachley (AUS); Megan Abubo (HAW); Rochelle Ballard (HAW)
Heat 5: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS); Amee Donohoe (AUS); Roseanne Hodge (AUS)
Heat 6: Silvana Lima (BRA); Rebecca Woods (AUS); Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)