The final event of the ASP Women's World Tour, today's Billabong Pro Maui action treated spectators to ASP World Title clinches, incredible tube-riding and some of the highest heat scores of the event.
Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), defending Billabong Pro Maui Champion, posted the highest heat total of the event, an 18.65 out of a possible 20, for a flurry of backhand hacks in her Round 3 bout against Rebecca Woods (AUS).
"I'm just happy to redeem myself a bit and get a couple of good waves in heats," Miley-Dyer said. "That's really what I didn't do in Round 1. I think as long as I catch waves and have fun, I'll be right. It's just a matter of waiting for them."
With a number of high-scoring heat totals and exciting barrels, today's Billabong Pro Maui action was punctuated with the culmination of the 2007 ASP Women's World Title race.
Rookie phenom Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) shredded her way back into the history books, claiming the 2007 ASP World Title during Round 3 of the Billabong Pro Maui presented by Hawaiian Airlines, held in hollow two-to-four foot (1 metre) waves at Honolua Bay, Maui.
Following former ratings leader Sofia Mulanovich's (PER) shock Round 3 elimination at the hands of wildcard Keala Kennelly (HAW), Gilmore capitalized on the opening by nailing an excellent 9.8 out of a possible 10 on her very first wave of the next heat for an exceptional tuberide followed by an onslaught of forehand carves.
"Paddling into it, it was actually a smaller wave and Rochelle (Ballard) didn't even look at it," Gilmore said. "I kind of looked down the line and thought that I was going to fit into it because I'm a massive human, but somehow I managed to squeeze into it. It just drained and it just opened and closed the whole way down the line, and I managed to make my way out."
Kennelly, who entered into the Billabong Pro Maui with the withdrawal of Caroline Sarran (FRA), opened up her heat against Mulanovich with an incredible backhand barrel, netting the Hawaiian the highest single-wave score of the event, a 9.9 out of a possible 10.
"I feel really awful about knock Sofia (Mulanovich) out," Kennelly said. "I really didn't want to draw any of the ASP Women's World Title contenders because I know how it feels to be in that position. That barrel was amazing, but this is probably the worst I have ever felt coming in after winning a heat. Sofia is a true champion and such a gracious person, regardless of whether she is winning or losing."
Gilmore finally sealed her ASP Women's World Title when fellow rookie Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) took down remaining contender Silvana Lima (BRA) in the final heat of the day. With just five minutes remaining in the heat, Hodge found the winning wave as she belted a walling righthander on her forehand.
"It was an incredible feeling being out in that heat," Hodge said. "Steph (Gilmore) and I came onto the tour this year together as rookies and to be able to play a part in her ASP Women's World Title victory is really special. I look up to Steph a lot and I looked at that heat like I got my best result and she won the world title."
Although the ASP Women's World Title has been decided, the Billabong Pro Maui still has eight competitors remaining in the hunt for the coveted event win as well as the Vans Triple Crown showdown.
With the elimination of Mulanovich, three surfers remain in contention for the 2007 Vans Triple Crown Award. Hawaiian powerhouse Melanie Bartels, seven-time ASP Women's World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS) and frontrunner Megan Abubo (HAW) will all battle it out on the final day of competition at Honolua Bay.
Next call will be tomorrow at 7:30am.
FUEL TV will be broadcasting the Billabong Pro Maui presented by Hawaiian Airlines. For more information, log onto www.fuel.tv
RESULTS: Billabong Pro Maui (ASP Women's World Tour)
ROUND 3: 16 surfers remaining
Heat 1: Layne Beachley (AUS) 11.75 def. Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 7.75
Heat 2: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 10.25 def. Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 7.50
Heat 3: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 18.65 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 9.75
Heat 4: Keala Kennelly (HAW) 15.90 def. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 7.50
Heat 5: Stephanie Gilmore 9AUS) 18.55 def. Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 10.25
Heat 6: Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 15.00 def. Amee Donohoe (AUS) 12.00
Heat 7: Megan Abubo (HAW) 4.00 def. Samantha Cornish (AUS) 3.50
Heat 8: Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 13.30 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 12.25
MATCH-UPS: Billabong Pro Maui (ASP Women's World Tour)
QUARTERFINALS: 8 surfers remaining
QF 1: Layne Beachley (AUS) vs. Melanie Bartels (HAW)
QF 2: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) vs. Keala Kennelly (HAW)
QF 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)
QF 4: Megan Abubo (HAW) vs. Rosanne Hodge (ZAF)