LIENCRES, Spain (Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007) – ASP World No. 1 Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and World No. 3 Chelsea Hedges (AUS) saw their Rip Curl Girls Festival hopes dashed, when they were eliminated during Round 3 of the competition at Liencres Beach, today.
Posting their collective lowest results on the ASP Women's World Tour this year, the two former duel ASP ratings leaders finished up with equal 9ths, Gilmore eliminated by ASP World Tour rookie Roseanne Hodge (ZAF) and Hedges defeated by Rip Curl Wildcard Alana Blanchard (HAW).
Competing in chilly 3ft (1m) waves, Hodge posted the biggest of the day's upsets, edging out Gilmore to advance into the Quarterfinals where she was later eliminated by Silvana Lima (BRA).
"It felt like I'd just won the contest," Hodge said of her Round 3 victory. "It was the first time I'd made it out of Round 3 this year and Steph was really the surfer to beat."
Seventeen-year-old event wildcard Alana Blanchard lived up to the reputation of the infamous wildcard, disposing of Hedges by an exceptionally narrow margin, her 9.65 (out of a possible 20.00)score just enough to squash Hedges's 9.40.
"It felt good," Blanchard said. "It was just too bad there weren't enough waves to show off some good surfing but I'm stoked I could be in a contest with Chelsea. She's such a good surfer and it was a real confidence boost for me."
Blanchard's win saw her advance directly into the Quarterfinals where her victory song was soon drowned out by event standout Sofia Mulanovich (PER).
Currently rated World No. 6, Mulanovich has proved increasingly potent in the left-breaking waves of Liencres. The former ASP World Champion has posted the only pair of nine-point rides in the event to date; one of which she used to dispose of 2006 Rookie of the Year Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) in Round 3, before advancing out of her Quarterfinal match-up against Blanchard.
"Wildcards are always a challenge so I am just stoked I made it out of that heat," Mulanovich said. "I love these kind of waves, little lefts, I think they're my strongest point".
As the ratings leaders toppled, Mulanovich made a concerted effort to put herself back in contention.
"Today was a pretty big shock," Mulanovich said. "I saw Chelsea getting knocked and I thought 'wow that was heavy' and then I saw Steph getting knocked. You have to take advantage of these things and make it as far as you can to keep in the game."
Another surfer to revel in the smaller left-handers (left breaking waves) was ASP World No. 2 Samantha Cornish (AUS). Advancing into the Semifinals this evening, Cornish has unofficially claimed the ASP ratings lead which she safely holds until tomorrow, when things could all change depending on how Silvana Lima (BRA) and Sofia Mulanovich (PER)perform in the next two rounds.
"It's been a pretty upsetting day for a few of the other girls," Cornish said. "But it's definitely exciting for me, I want to take the lead but at the same time I know I need to take it one heat at a time."
Joining Gilmore and Hedges on the list of big name casualties was 7X ASP World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS) who toppled at the hands of Amee Donohoe (AUS), in their Quarterfinal match-up.
"It feels special to beat such an elite athlete and it's great to have the opportunity to compete against her," Donohoe said. "Layne beat me at Bells so this was sweet redemption. It's been a long time coming and it feels really good."
The Semifinal match-ups will see Samantha Cornish (AUS) up against Sofia Mulanovich (PER) in Heat 1; followed by Amee Donohoe (AUS) taking on Silvana Lima (BRA) in Heat 2.
The next call will be made at 07h30 (local time) tomorrow.
The waiting period for the Rip Curl Girls Festival extends from September 4-9, 2007 and needs just two full days of surfing to be completed.
The Rip Curl Girls Festival will be broadcast around the world via live webcast transmission online at www.ripcurl.com/girlsfestival.
RIP CURL GIRLS FESTIVAL QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
Heat 1: Samantha Cornish (AUS) 12.00 vs Melanie Redman Carr (AUS)9.25
Heat 2: Sofia Mulanovich (PER)14.00 vs Alana Blanchard (HAW)5.50
Heat 3: Amee Donohoe (AUS) 12.25 vs Layne Beachley (AUS)5.00
Heat 4: Silvana Lima (BRA)11.10 vs Roseanne Hodge (ZAF)9.25
RIP CURL GIRLS FESTIVAL ROUND THREE RESULTS:
Heat 1: Samantha Cornish (AUS) 10.75 def. Melanie Bartels (HAW)10.00
Heat 2: Melanie Redman Carr (AUS)12.00 def. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)8.00
Heat 3: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 17.25 def Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)10.75
Heat 4: Alana Blanchard (HAW)9.65 def Chelsea Hedges (AUS)9.40
Heat 5: Layne Beachley (AUS) 13.50 def Rochelle Ballard (HAW)5.35
Heat 6: Amee Donohoe (AUS) 12.50 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 7.50
Heat 7: Silvana Lima (BRA) 9.90 def Megan Abubo (HAW)9.50
Heat 8: Roseanne Hodge (ZAF)9.65 def Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)8.35