VANS TRIPLE CROWN
KIRSTIN SCHOLTZ / ASP COVERED IMAGES
Peru's Sofia Mulanovich won the Roxy Pro women's event at Sunset Beach yesterday, jumping to second in the ASP world rankings.
Mulanovich grabs first North Shore title
As the rest of the big names in the Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach continued to get eliminated with each successive heat yesterday, Peru's Sofia Mulanovich just kept surfing.
Surfing what were called some of the largest waves for any women's professional contest ever.
Surfing through surprising performances by dark-horse competitors.
Surfing all the way to her first career victory at the famed break on Oahu's North Shore, a No. 2 position in the world rankings with just one event left in the season and into a tie atop the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series standings for which she's the defending champion.
"I'm so stoked, this is such an honor," said Mulanovich, who also won $12,000 and her third career Triple Crown event title. "I tried not to think about (what was at stake), just tried to surf every wave as good as I can. The other (top contenders) all bowed out kind of fast, and that gave me a window."
The Roxy is the penultimate event on the women's World Championship Tour as well as the second of three major Hawaii contests that make up their Triple Crown. In addition to the titles from the three individual jewels, the Triple Crown also awards its own championship trophy to the top overall performer in the series.
Last year, Mulanovich picked up her second career Triple Crown event title at Haleiwa on the way to winning her first Triple Crown overall championship. After getting eliminated in the semifinals at Haleiwa earlier this month, the 24-year-old from Lima came out on top for the first time at a series event at Sunset after tallying 13.73 (out of 20) total points for her top two rides in the 30-minute, four-woman Roxy final.
Amee Donohoe, by her own admission one of the dark horses, placed second with 10.83. Samantha Cornish (7.64) finished third and Jessi Miley-Dyer (6.40) fourth. All three are from Australia.
Wave faces consistently ranged between 12 and 16 feet and occasionally reached as high as 20 to 24.
"It was like four times overhead for me," said the diminutive Mulanovich. "Some of the biggest waves I've surfed, for sure."
"Everyone wants to see the girls in bigger conditions," she said, "and this shows we can tackle stuff like this."
Struggling in the extremely challenging waves, surfers such as current world No. 1 Stephanie Gilmore (Australia), previous No. 2 Silvana Lima (Brazil), defending and record seven-time world champion Layne Beachley (Australia) and former world and Triple Crown champ Chelsea Hedges (Australia) were eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Recognized as one of the best female big-wave surfers in the world, Hawaii's Rochelle Ballard also went down in the quarters. Melanie Bartels of Waianae -- the defending Roxy winner -- and Waialua's Megan Abubo -- the winner of this year's first jewel -- went down in the semis.
Abubo was forced to come in after only about 8 minutes and one short ride in her heat after falling hard on the water during the wipeout and possibly breaking some ribs.
She is tied with Mulanovich for the Triple Crown points lead, but is questionable for the Billabong Pro Maui at Honolua Bay that serves as both the series and WCT finale.
Even more significant than the chance for a second Triple Crown overall championship, Mulanovich also moved up from the third to the second spot in the world rankings and could earn her second career world championship (first in 2004) if she has another strong performance at the Billabong. Only Mulanovich, Gilmore and Lima remain in contention for the world title.
"It should be a good race in Maui," Mulanovich said.