Georgeson takes over top spot
The Australian scored a perfect ride to pass Sofia Mulanovich for No. 1 in the world rankings
Chelsea Georgeson didn't necessarily need perfection yesterday at the Roxy Pro Hawaii, the first jewel of the eighth-annual women's Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series. But she delivered it anyway.
The 22-year-old Australian scored a perfect 10 on a wave during the Roxy Pro final at Haleiwa's Alii Beach Park. It was the only perfect score of the entire one-day contest.
With it, Georgeson won the opener of the prestigious series of three big-wave events in Hawaii that marks the end of the surfing season. She also took over the No. 1 ranking in the world and grabbed the early lead for the Triple Crown championship that goes to the best overall performer -- an award she won last year.
"It's the best thing, to be able to give everything ... and come out on top," said Georgeson, who earned $10,000 with the victory. "There's still pressure. It's not over, and anything can happen. But it should definitely be an exciting finish either way."
Besides being the Triple Crown's first stop, the Roxy Pro also served as the penultimate event on the women's World Championship Tour. The second jewel at Sunset Beach coming up later this month is not part of the WCT, but the final one is -- the Billabong Pro Maui at Honolua Bay.
Peru's Sofia Mulanovich -- also 22 and the defending world champion -- entered the Roxy Pro as the world No. 1, but she went down in the quarterfinals. Had she won the event and Georgeson been eliminated before the quarters, Mulanovich would have sealed her second straight world title.
But with Mulanovich's early elimination and Georgeson surfing on, the world championship race was already guaranteed to continue at the Billabong Pro, which Georgeson also won last year. And with her win in the final, Georgeson was able to take the top ranking (6,432 points to Mulanovich's 5,820) away from the defending world champion and position herself well for a potential first world title.
"I was sick of being in second," said Georgeson, after chasing Mulanovich for most of the year. "I'm just going to go into Maui like I went into this event, and just try to have fun out there."
Wave faces for most of the Roxy Pro were between 6 and 10 feet. Occasional 12-foot sets rolled in, particularly during the later rounds.
Georgeson's perfect score came on one of these sets, and it was her second ride of the 25-minute, four-woman final. On the wave that came about 8 minutes into the heat, she executed three massive off-the-top snaps in a row as the only backhanded -- and supposedly disadvantaged -- surfer in the final.
Georgeson's combined 17.83 points (out of 20 maximum) for her top two waves were more than six better than countrywoman Claire Bevilacqua (11.23), who finished in second place. Another Aussie, Melanie Redman-Carr (9.90), placed third.
Bevilacqua sputtered a bit in the final, but she was the standout in the earlier rounds and turned in the highest overall heat score (19.06) to win the same quarter that finished Mulanovich's day and extended the drama for this season.
"I didn't run out of gas," Bevilacqua explained. "I just didn't get the waves that could have won it for me. But I'm so happy to have made the final, to go out this year with a bit of a bang."
Haleiwa's own and world No. 3 Megan Abubo (8.44) finished fourth. She needed to win the event to stay in contention for the world championship, but now only Georgeson and Mulanovich remain.
Hawaii's Carissa Moore, 13, won a four-surfer trials heat during the morning to gain entry into the Roxy Pro main event. The youngest Triple Crown competitor ever when she competed in this event two years ago, the Punahou School eighth-grader made it to the quarterfinals before going down, as she did in 2003.
Four third-round heats of the Op Pro Hawaii, the first jewel of the men's Triple Crown, were also run yesterday at Haleiwa. It was the third day of competition, and the Op Pro will need one more by Wednesday to run to completion.
Notable surfers to advance out of the heats were: Maui's Ian Walsh, North Shore veteran Pancho Sullivan and 2004 event and Triple Crown runner-up Phillip MacDonald.