COURTESY ASP WORLD TOUR
Australia's Stephanie Gilmore will move up to the WCT after finishing No. 2 in the WQS.
Gilmore gets through
There are bigger names in the Roxy Pro. But on the first day of the second jewel of the women's Vans Triple Crown of Surfing yesterday, it was a couple of the smaller ones who pulled off the biggest maneuvers and scores -- and made the competition difficult for some of the stars.
Besides being part of the prestigious three-event Hawaii series, the Roxy is also the penultimate event on the women's World Championship Tour, which is generally reserved for the world's top 17 surfers.
While they aren't on the WCT this year, Hawaii's Melanie Bartels and Australia's Stephanie Gilmore were both able to surf through two trials heats to get into the Roxy's main event.
Once in the first round, Bartels posted 8.83 (out of 10) and 8.60 scores for her top two waves to convincingly win her heat with 17.43 total points over defending world and Triple Crown champion Chelsea Georgeson (12.00 total) of Australia and world No. 12 Julia Christian (6.10) of California.
"I was waiting to actually prove something in these contests and show my talent," said Bartels, 24, a former WCT competitor who will rejoin the elite tour next year after a final No. 3 ranking on the World Qualifying Series this season. "Something's in me right now that makes me want to go for it, no matter what the situation is. I want to prove I have it in me to give these 'CT girls a hard rub. That (tour is) where I want to be, and that's where I should be."
All first-round winners and runner-ups automatically moved into the third round, while the third-place finishers had to surf in the second round, where eliminations began. Including the trials, the Roxy started with an international field of 28 surfers, and competition through the second round was completed in 6- to 12-foot-face waves.
Gilmore will be in her first WCT campaign next year after finishing as the WQS No. 2, and also was the runner-up in the Triple Crown's first jewel.
In the first-rounder immediately after Bartels', she surfed perhaps the best women's Triple Crown heat so far this year. Gilmore dominated against current world No. 1 Layne Beachley (Australia) and No. 13 Rochelle Ballard (Hawaii) -- the two most consider the best female surfers at the famed North Shore break -- by notching 18.10 total points and a near-perfect high wave of 9.60.
Beachley could potentially extend her own record by sealing a seventh career world title at this event. But as the third-place finisher behind Gilmore and Ballard, she was relegated to surfing in the second round, which she survived by winning her heat.
"It is nerve-racking going up against" Beachley and Ballard, said the 18-year-old Gilmore. "But I know if I get the waves, I should be all right. I'm pretty confident, on any right-hander, that I can go out there and win the heat -- whether it be against Layne Beachley or the next Joe Blow. I just try to keep the names out of my mind."
Other first-round victors included No. 9 Megan Abubo (Hawaii), No. 2 Melanie Redman-Carr (Australia) and the winner of the Triple Crown's first jewel, No. 4 Sofia Mulanovich (Peru).
Christian and Australia's Trudy Todd were the only surfers eliminated from the competition yesterday after each placed third in their second-round heat.
Another half-day is needed to complete the Roxy. Surf permitting, the competition will resume today.
Also yesterday at Sunset, the last five heats of the first round of the men's second Triple Crown contest -- the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing -- were completed. Heat winners included Hawaii's Myles Padaca, Sean Moody and Hank Gaskell.