SUNSET BEACH, Hawaii (Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007) – Current ASP ratings leader Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) needed a second chance to show the world why she's No. 1 on Day 1 of the Roxy Pro Hawaii, but she did so in her Round 2 heat at Sunset Beach today.
Gilmore, who could potentially win her maiden world title when the Roxy Pro runs next, will be the only athlete in the history of professional surfing to win an ASP World Title as a rookie. The mounting pressure of such a huge achievement got to 19-year-old in her Round 1 heat when she finished 3rd to Wildcard Coco Ho (HAW) and Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) respectively. She was forced to surf Round 2, the first elimination round, for only the second time this year.
"It's all just a whirlwind in my head," Gilmore said. "There are so many things I'm thinking about and so many things that I shouldn't be thinking about. I think I was just a little bit rattled in my first heat, I couldn't find any waves. My Round 2 heat was good, I felt like it was just another chance to get some more practice with my boards, Sunset can be pretty challenging."
Gilmore posted the highest heat total of the day, 18.10 (out of 20.00) and the highest single wave score when she earned a 9.60 in her Round 2 heat against Rochelle Ballard (HAW) and Jacqueline Silva (BRA).
"The second wave of the set had a little bit of froth on the take off," Gilmore said of her highest scoring wave. "I didn't really think I was going to make it, I felt like I was going to eat it pretty hard. Luckily I managed to make it down the face, pull myself together and get a few really good turns in. I didn't really think I'd score that high, but I'm stoked."
World No. 2 Silvana Lima (BRA), Gilmore's closest competition for the World Title, won her Round 1 heat today. Lima needs to finish within one place ahead of Gilmore in the Roxy Pro to keep her title dreams alive heading into final event of the year in Maui.
"I feel great, no pressure, nothing different," Lima said. "I need to do really well and there are a lot of different ways the World Title race will be determined. I'm trying not to think about it much and just stay calm and concentrate on my surfing."
Hawaiians Coco Ho, Melanie Bartels and Megan Abubo reveled in Round 1 today. Ho, who had to first win the Roxy Pro Trials to earn a place in .the main event, was elated when she finished 1st in her heat against Gilmore and Bevilacqua.
"Stephanie Gilmore is my ultimate hero," Ho said. "It was the best experience to be able to surf with her, but I was so bummed that she wasn't able to get a few good ones and put on a show for us and get me kickin'. I wished her the best in Round 2 and I'm rooting for her for the World Title Race for sure all the way."
Current Vans Triple Crown of Surfing forerunner Abubo beat co-Sunset specialists Layne Beachley (AUS) and Rochelle Ballard (HAW) in the six foot (two metre)surf on offer to keep her Hawaiian winning streak alive. Abubo won the first event of the Triple Crown in Haleiwa, a 6-Star ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) event, last week.
"To win the Triple Crown is a dream for anyone, but for a Hawaiian it just means that much more," Abubo said. "We've just been blessed this year with such good waves here at Sunset and at Haleiwa. I surf here all the time and its' just to great to paddle out and have two of my great friends out there with me in the lineup. I'm hoping the rest of the event will go this well too."
Reigning Roxy Pro champion Bartels beat Australians Samantha Cornish and Amee Donohoe to advance straight to Round 3 in front of her hometown crowd at Sunset Beach today.
"I'm Hawaiian so I feel great about surfing here at Sunset with my family and friends around," Bartels said. "It's great to be surfing in big waves, it's more challenging. The girls who usually do well in small waves just aren't making their heats so it's just good, it shows that you have to be versatile. I'm stoked the heat was good, I love these conditions and getting barreled."
Only seven heats of surfing remain for the Roxy Pro Hawaii, and the World Title could quite likely be decided the next time competition resumes, which may be tomorrow.
The ASP Women's World Title clinching scenario for the Roxy Pro Hawaii is as follows:
Mathematically, World No. 2 Silvana Lima (BRA), former ASP Women's World Champions Layne Beachley (AUS), Chelsea Hedges (AUS) and Sofia Mulanovich (PER), as well as current world No. 6 Samantha Cornish (AUS) are capable of overtaking ratings leader Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) with two wins if Gilmore doesn't post better than a combination of 9th or 17th place results in the last two events of the season.
Should Gilmore earn a 5th at Sunset Beach, Hedges, Beachley and Cornish will be out of contention leaving only Lima and Mulanovich in the race.
If Mulanovich bows out early with a 17th at Sunset Beach, Gilmore needs a 9th to knock her out of contention. If Mulanovich earns a 9th at Sunset Beach, Gilmore needs a 5th. If Gilmore finishes 4th or better, Mulanovich can't win.
Gilmore can clinch the title at the Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach if she posts a 3rd place result and Lima finishes 17th or 9th. If Lima finishes 5th or 4th Gilmore must finish 2nd to win the title there. If Lima posts a 3rd place result, Gilmore must win the event or the race will continue to Maui.
Hawaiian Senator and Triple Crown founder Fred Hemmings will be at Sunset Beach to make a special presentation prior to the Roxy Pro final. Hemmings will be there to acknowledge the women of the Roxy Pro and young Hawaiian surfer Carissa Moore. This will take place some time between 11am and noon, prior to the finalists paddling out.
Round 1 Roxy Pro Hawaii Heat Results:
Heat 1: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 13.60, Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 10.69, Roseanne Hodge (ZAF) 5.73
Heat 2: Caroline Sarran (FRA) 10.0 Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 8.83, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 5.57
Heat 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 13.17, Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 7.94, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 4.33
Heat 4: Silvana Lima (BRA) 6.83, Leilani Gryde (HAW) 4.67, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 1.40
Heat 5: Megan Abubo (HAW) 11.43, Layne Beachley (AUS) 9.86, Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 8.66
Heat 6: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 12.17, Amee Donohoe (AUS) 12.06, Samantha Cornish (AUS) 8.33
Round 2 Roxy Pro Hawaii Heat Results:
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 18.10, Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 5.33, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 5.00
Heat 2: Samantha Cornish (AUS) 13.77, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 11.07, Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 4.66
Essentially, if Gilmore wins the event and Lima finishes 3rd or lower, the 2007 ASP Women's World Title belongs to Gilmore.