MANLY, Sydney (Monday, Oct. 1, 2007) – Surfers rated first to fifth on the ASP Women's World Tour are poised for an almighty clash in Sydney, Australia next week, when the second annual NAB Beachley Classic, gets underway at Manly Beach, from October 9- 14, 2007.
Just 400 points separate the top five rated women who will be determined to put some ground between themselves and their closest rivals, thanks to the 220 bonus ratings points on offer during NAB Beachley Classic, Stop No. 5 of 8 on the ASP Women's World Tour.
World No. 5 Chelsea Hedges (AUS) is one such surfer. The 2005 ASP World Champion has slipped steadily down the ASP ratings ladder this year, her win on the Gold Coast in February shadowed by two equal fifths and one equal ninth placing, at the subsequent events.
"Being in 5th position and only 400 points behind 1st place, the bonus points could be critical for me," Hedges said. "Winning this event will probably put me into 1st position or at least in a comfortable situation going into the final few events."
Hedges's position on the ASP ratings perfectly illustrates the caliber of surfing seen amongst the World's Top 17 Women this year, with a new winner emerging from each event and no apparent favorites for Manly.
"A lot can happen at this event!" Hedges continued. "Everyone is so close on the ratings that the extra points will definitely make a difference. Last year, when Steph won this event we didn't really see the effects of the points but I think this year we will."
Unlike Hedges, current World No. 3 Sofia Mulanovich (PER) has climbed up the ASP ratings ladder. The 2004 ASP World Champion sustained a shocking equal 17th finish on the Gold Coast but quickly made up ground with a runner-up finish at Bells, followed by an equal fifth in Brazil and finally, victory in Spain.
Rated just behind World No. 2 Silvana Lima (BRA), Mulanovich has harbored no secrets of her intention to put herself in contention for an ASP World Title this year.
"I really want to do well at Layne's contest," Mulanovich said. "I am looking forward to putting on another good performance. This contest will make a difference at the end of year; you have to have a good result here if you want to be in contention for a World Title."
Another surfer with her eyes fixed firmly on the burnished World Title trophy is World No. 4 Stephanie Gilmore (AUS).
The defending NAB Beachley Classic Champion made history by winning the event as a wildcard in 2006 and will be eager to return to the limelight as a top tier surfer in her native country, next week.
"This is new territory for me," Gilmore, who qualified for the ASP Women's World Tour at the end of 2006, said. "Obviously there's a different set of pressures and expectations on me now but I'm still a grommet so I get excited and start thinking about ratings points, scenarios with the heat draws and stuff that can really affect your performance."
Gilmore lost her ASP ratings lead to current World No. 1 Cornish in Spain and is starting to feel the pressure from her peers, who appear to have lifted their game against the Snapper Rocks starlet.
"There are some good psychological challenges for me to overcome now," Gilmore explained. "The second half of the year is critical and I am learning how to use these new challenges to become a better athlete."
The NAB Beachley Classic is the richest stop on the ASP Women's World Tour with US$100000 in prize money, as well as a 20% increase in ASP ratings points. The event features the World's Top 17 Women and one wildcard.
The Oakley wildcard trials will take place on Monday October 8, 2007 and will see 12 international surfers clash for one coveted spot in the NAB Beachley Classic.
The official press conference will take place at the NAB Beachley Classic Contest site, North Steyne Road, Queenscliff, Sydney, on Monday October 8, 2007 at 12.30pm.
The NAB Beachley Classic is produced by event namesake 7X ASP World Champion Layne Beachley (Aus) in collaboration with National Australia Bank and the Association of Surfing Professionals.
ASP Women's World Tour Ratings after Stop No. 4 of 8:
1. Samantha Cornish (AUS) 3072
2. Silvana Lima (BRA) 3060
3. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 2904
4. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 2868
5. Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 2664
6. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 2232
7. Layne Beachley (AUS) 2220
7. Amee Donohoe (AUS) 2220
9. Melanie Redman Carr (AUS) 2016