What: Roxy Pro Hawaii, ASP Women's World Tour Event #7
Where: Sunset Beach Hawaii
When: 23 November - 6 December 2007
Hawaiian surfer Megan Abubo has been a staple on the ASP Womens World Tour for the last 11 years, but after a shaky start to the 2007 season, the 29-year-old appeared to be in jeopardy of losing her spot amongst the elite in 2008.
A victory at her home break in Haleiwa, Hawaii in the last ASP Womens World Qualifying Series (WQS) event of the year and the first of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Series assured Abubo a 2008 elite tour berth courtesy of a Top 6 WQS finish.
She will now enter the upcoming Roxy Pro Hawaii - the penultimate event on the ASP Womens World Tour - free of requalification woes, but under pressure nonetheless.
"I was so excited to win at home its been a long time coming," Abubo said. "To start the Triple Crown off with a win is huge for me and I am very excited to compete in the Roxy Pro at Sunset and on Maui. There has been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that I qualify no matter what, but I work well under pressure, so Im putting heat on myself to do well in the Triple Crown it has always been one of my dreams and I am going to try my best to obtain that goal."
The 29-year-old finished runner-up to 7xASP World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS) in 2000 and has won eight ASP Womens World Tour events, but is currently rated a lacklustre equal 11th on the top tier tour. Despite contesting both the World Tour and the WQS in 2007, Abubo headed into the Hawaiian season without an inspiring result on either tour.
"This has been my toughest year on tour ever and longest in my career," Abubo said. "Up until Haleiwa I think I only had one semifinal result in a WQS event and a quarterfinal finish in a World Tour event. I can remember years when I would throw away a quarterfinal or count it as my lowest result. Midway through the year I was even thinking about throwing in the towel things were getting me down so much."
Abubo made the Quarterfinals of the first event of ASP Womens World Tour season on the Gold Coast of Australia, but hasn't advanced finished above equal 9th in any of the five events since.
"It's hard when you're on top for so long and then it isn't there any more, but I had a tremendous amount of support from my sisters and got my head on straight and never quit or gave up," Abubo said. "I trained pretty hard and have been focused on winning in Hawaii and thats it. All I wanted to do was win at home. I have tunnel vision right now which is good and that vision is on winning and doing well in as many events at home as possible to get that fire back again."
Abubo moved to Oahu at age 2 and has called Haleiwa home since. A move a few miles north now has her surfing Sunset Beach more regularly, and she is eager to illustrate her prowess there when the Roxy Pro commences.
"I love surfing Sunset and feel very comfortable out there especially when no one else is out heats are so much fun out there," Abubo said. "I actually live at Sunset now and surf there more than Haleiwa so I hope to get on some big boards and surf some big waves. One of the big things at Sunset is fitness and I feel super fit right now. I am ready for the challenge and can't wait for the Roxy Pro. I have made the finals there a few times in many different kinds of conditions so I'm ready for anything."
Abubo will face 7X ASP World Champion and multiple Sunset Beach champion Layne Beachley (AUS) as well as Rochelle Ballard (HAW) in Heat 5 of Round 1. Beachley surfed the break regularly when she lived there in the late 1990s and Ballard can see the break from her front porch.
Current World No. 1 Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) could capture her maiden world title at the Roxy Pro Sunset (if she does she will the first rookie to ever do so) but she knows that it's the local and formerly local girls she'll have to get past first.
"I think the local girls will always be a threat, Megan Abubo especially after her great win at Haleiwa," Gilmore said. "Layne Beachley is probably the most comfortable out there especially if its big, so its going to be interesting to see what the ocean will produce for us and hopefully well perform to their standards throughout the event."
The ASP Womens World Title clinching scenario for the Roxy Pro Hawaii is as follows:
Mathematically, world No. 2 Silvana Lima (BRA), former ASP Womens World Champions Layne Beachley (AUS), Chelsea Hedges (AUS) and Sofia Mulanovich (PER), as well as current world No. 6 Samantha Cornish (AUS) are capable of overtaking ratings leader Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) with two wins if Gilmore doesn't post better than a combination of 9th or 17th place results in the last two events of the season.
Should Gilmore earn a 7th at Sunset Beach, Hedges, Beachley and Cornish will be out of contention leaving only Lima and Mulanovich in the race.
If Mulanovich bows out early with a 17th at Sunset Beach, Gilmore needs a 9th to knock her out of contention. If Mulanovich earns a 9th at Sunset Beach, Gilmore needs a 5th. If Gilmore finishes 4th or better, and Mulanovich 5th or less then Mulanovich can't win.
Gilmore can clinch the title at the Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach if she posts a 3rd place result and Lima finishes 7th or less. If Lima finishes 5th or 4th Gilmore must finish 2nd to win the title there. If Lima posts a 3rd place result, Gilmore must win the event or the race will continue to Maui.
Essentially, if Gilmore wins the event and Lima finishes 3rd or lower, the 2007 ASP Womens World Title belongs to Gilmore.
Heat 1: Chelsea Hedges (AUS), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), Roseanne Hodge (ZAF)
Heat 2: Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Rebecca Woods (AUS), Caroline Sarran (FRA)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Claire Bevilacqua (AUS), Wildcard (TBD)
Heat 4: Silvana Lima (BRA), Jacqueline Silva (BRA), Leilani Gryde (HAW)
Heat 5: Layne Beachley (AUS), Megan Abubo (HAW), Rochelle Ballard (HAW)
Heat 6: Samantha Cornish (AUS), Amee Donohoe (AUS), Melanie Bartels (HAW)