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Saturday, November 22, 2003



[ SURFING ]


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CAROL CUNNINGHAM / CUNNINGHAMPHOTOS.COM
Roxy Pro champion Sofia Mulanovich (left) surfed past 11-year-old Carissa Moore of Honolulu at Haleiwa yesterday. Moore, the youngest participant ever in the Triple Crown, finished fourth in her four-person quarterfinal heat yesterday.


Mulanovich’s victory
a dream come true

The 20-year-old pro makes
a close friend's dream a reality
by winning the Roxy Pro


Winning a big surf contest in Hawaii was something Sofia Mulanovich often dreamt about growing up in Peru.

But when close friend and fellow surfer Carly Smith told her a few days ago that she had a dream the night before that Mulanovich would win the first contest in this year's prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing -- the Roxy Pro at Haleiwa -- Mulanovich didn't want to hear about it.

"I said, 'Don't even say that,' " recalled the 20-year-old professional from Punta Hermosa. "I felt too much pressure. I even got kind of angry."

Mulanovich's anger, however, quickly transformed into joy and smiles yesterday at the final day of the Roxy, as she fulfilled both her dream and Smith's prophetic vision by winning the event. A "trippy" experience, is how she described the week and her first career victory in Hawaii.

"The most important thing is that this is one of the stops of the Triple Crown, so I'm stoked I won it," Mulanovich added. "(Being in contention) to win the Triple Crown is great."

Waves were in the 4- to 8-foot-face range yesterday, and sloppy and challenging because of onshore winds.

Mulanovich waited for the better waves and managed only seven rides in the 30-minute final -- tied for lowest among the four competitors. Nearly five minutes passed before Mulanovich caught her first wave.

But her patience paid off with two high scores (only top two rides count), the first-place trophy and $6,000 in prize money. She received a 7-point (out of 10 maximum) score for that first ride, and followed it up with an 8 about eight minutes later for a ride that included two big backhand snaps among a series of carving maneuvers.

Mulanovich's 15-point total gave her a 2.9-point edge over second-place Melanie Bartels (Hawaii), who finished with 12.10. Maria Tita Tavares (Brazil) placed third with 10.43, and Samantha Cornish (Australia) fourth, with 7.97.

"It was anybody's ballgame and Sofia came out on top; she was killing it," Bartels, 21, said. "And there were a lot of good people in this contest, so I'm pretty stoked to even make it into the finals. This is an accomplishment."

The Roxy was a World Qualifying Series event, which allowed competitors to earn points toward qualifying for the elite 16-woman World Championship Tour next season. Waianae's Bartels is currently the top-ranked surfer on the WQS, and is already assured a spot on the 2004 WCT.

No Hawaii surfer, male or female, has won the WQS since it was created 11 years ago, and no Hawaii woman has won the Triple Crown. The women have one more WQS event to go, the Turtle Bay Resort Pro (Nov. 24-Dec. 7), which also serves as the second stop in their Triple Crown. The Triple Crown finale, the Billabong Pro Maui at Honolua Bay (Dec. 8-20), is the 2003 WCT season ender.

Besides leading the Triple Crown standings, Mulanovich sits at No. 5 in the world rankings, with an outside shot at the WCT world title. Bartels is not competing for the WCT championship this year, but should she remain in contention for the Triple Crown title through the Turtle Bay event, she will likely receive a wild-card berth into the Billabong trials.

Notes: The Roxy run of 11-year-old surfing sensation Carissa Moore of Honolulu ended in the quarterfinals yesterday, where she placed fourth in her four-person heat. The sixth-grader from Punahou School remained a source of amazement for spectators and competitors alike, however, after winning her round of 32 heat over pros Heather Clark (South Africa), Dara Penfold (Australia) and Serena Brooke (Australia) earlier this week.

Already tabbed as a future world champion and gaining her Roxy entry with a sponsor's exemption, Moore was the youngest surfer, male or female, ever to compete in the Triple Crown. "It was all fun," Moore said. "It was all about trying your best. ... I'm not as good as any of them (other competitors), but I'm going to try to be someday."

Heats in the round of 64 for the first event of the men's Triple Crown, the Vans Hawaiian Pro, also were held yesterday at Haleiwa. Surf permitting, the event will likely conclude today. The second stop in the men's Triple Crown is the Rip Curl Cup at Sunset Beach (Nov. 24-Dec. 7), while the Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters at the Banzai Pipeline (Dec. 8-20) is both the men's Triple Crown and WCT finale.

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