Teenage sensation Stephanie Gilmore (Kingscliff, NSW, Aus), took her surfing to new levels to win back to back Roxy Pro WQS titles at Phillip Island this weekend defeating fellow world ranked competitor Melanie Bartels (Oahu, Haw) in a one sided affair.
Summerland’s Beach, home of the world-famous Penguin Parade, provided the perfect venue to finalise the six remaining divisions of the Roxy Women’s Surf Festival. With winter-like conditions and gusty westerly winds, the protected point-break turned on perfect 1 to 1.5 metre waves – some of the best surf of the entire week.
Eighteen year-old Gilmore timed her tournament run to perfection, peaking on the final day, to be simply unbeatable. The super-stylish natural footer had Bartels on the ropes just 10 minutes into the 30 minute decider, opening with an excellent 8.33 and then quickly backing it up with a near-perfect 9.17 in the right-handers.
Gilmore further extended her lead with another 9.0 point ride midway to leave Bartels with no come-back.
“I’m just so stoked," said a grinning Gilmore on returning to the beach. “It’s is such a great start to my year, I’ve managed to keep my Roxy ‘QS title, get Mel back for her win over me at Sunset Beach last year and it’s my birthday tomorrow. I couldn’t be happier. I guess I was a bit nervous earlier in the week but it all came together at the right time for me today."
Bartels’ raw talent has never been doubt but until recently the competitive arena had proved her undoing. The Hawaiian’s turn of form includes wins in her home waters last December and now her excellent result at the Roxy Surf Festival. Gilmore was just simply too good today, however, leaving Bartels requiring an impossible 18.18 on the final siren.
“I got smashed," said Bartels. “The waves were good but I just couldn’t get it together against Steph. She is such a great competitor and any heat you have against her you know you have to be totally on your game. She is the surfer to beat. But this is a good start for me and a definite confidence booster for the start of the year. I am believing in myself and my surfing right now."
Gilmore commenced her assault with the demolition of world no.2 Melanie Redman-Carr (Dunsborough, WA, AUS) in semi-final one. She also managed the day’s only barrel ride for an 8.57 to finish with a heat total of 16.84. Redman-Carr was left requiring two waves with a small heat total of 8.83 and was eliminated in equal third.
Former world no.2 Serena Brooke (Coolangatta, Qld, AUS) fell victim to Bartels in semi-two finishing with a heat total of 8.57 to the Hawaiian’s 11.97. The equal 3rd result for Brooke is a great start to her come-back campaign where she will rejoin the tour’s elite ranks after falling off the at the end of last year.
Defending Roxy Women’s Longboard division champion Chelsea Williams cross-stepped and glided her way to the victory podium for the second time in two years, the Gold Coast natural footer easily finding the longest scoring waves today ahead of fellow Gold Coaster Selby Riddle (Coolangatta, Qld, AUS) and Sunshine Coast duo Rosie Locke (Noosa, Qld, AUS) and Sharon Jackson (Alexandria Headland, Qld, AUS).
Williams’ total score of 14.50 was more than double that of her nearest opponent in Riddle, but she hit the sand oblivious to her win, missing the commentator’s announcement due to the wind and rain. “Holy cow! Are you sure I won? I thought I was coming last?" she exclaimed.
Williams’ win today was crucial; it guarantees her seeding direct into the main event of the Roxy ASP Women’s World Longboard Championships scheduled for Biarittz, France mid year.
Riddle was second today on 6.40 points, Locke finished third on 5.77 points and Jackson fourth on 5.07 points, with all three minor place-getters also eligible for the Biarritz tournament.
An interference penalty did little to dent Erica Hosseini’s impressive run to glory in the all-international final of the Pro Junior division against French National Champion Alize’ Arnaud (Capbreton, FRA). Thinking she held priority, Hosseini paddled hard for a wave, unaware Arnaud had stood to her feet on the inside position. With scores of 6.67 and 6.0 points secured, the mistake cost Hosseini half of her highest scoring ride, but it was still enough to defeat Arnaud who held a two-wave combined final total of just 5.83pts.
Relieved, Hosseini returned to the beach only to discover the judges thought she had “flipped them off" with a raised middle finger, a gesture which if dealt the full extent of ASP law would have cost her a fine of AU$1,000. The incident was dismissed completely when it was discovered she had simply raised her hands to request the previous scores and ask how much time was remaining in the final.
“I am sooo happy, I can’t believe I blatantly dropped in (on Alize’) and I can’t believe I still won! I’m taking my prize money to the casino tonight and putting it all on red!" joked the Californian.
The former Quiksilver ISA World Junior finalist (2005) rates her win as the most satisfying of her young career. En-route to today’s final Hosseini accounted for the likes of Australasian Junior Champion Airini Mason (NZ), World ISA Junior runner-up and Australian National Champion Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW, AUS) and inspiring Hawaiian performer Bethany Hamilton (Kauai, HI).
The resounding efforts continued with 15 year-old Laura Enever’s scoring an emphatic victory in the Under-18 girls. Enever entered this year’s event as the defending U/18 division champion and two days earlier claimed victory in the U/16 girls.
The natural footer admitted the top spot in today’s U/18s could’ve gone to any of the other three finalists, with her good mate and travelling companion Sally Fitzgibbons finishing second, New Zealand’s Page Hareb third and Airini Mason also of New Zealand, fourth. It’s not the first time these surfers have stood on the podium together. “We were all in the Gromfest final together at Lennox (Head, NSW) and we surf against each other all the time so it just depends on who gets the best waves as to who is going to win," said Enever.
“It makes it fun to have your friends out there, but we don’t give waves away. We still hassle each other, but not too much."
Enever’s best wave included four top-to-bottom re-entries, and a fancy recovery when she slipped from her feet but still managed to hang on to her board and stand back up. Ultimately, her quick reaction proved to be the difference, holding out Fitzgibbons 10.83pts to 9.36pts. Hareb was third on 6.00 points, and Mason fourth on 5.67 points.
Enever’s outstanding form in the week-long event saw her awarded with a bonus prize, a Samsung K5-MP3 player.
Under 13 girls’ competitor Tyler Wright (Culburra, NSW, AUS) added yet another trophy to the bulging Wright-family mantle. Younger sister of 15 year-old Kirby and 17 year-old Quiksilver ISA World Junior Champion Owen, Tyler undeniably has the competitive surfing gene pumping through her veins.
Smart tactics saw Wright choose Summerland’s outer-reef where she linked longer waves to the beach to claim victory ahead of fellow pint-sized standout Sarah Mason (NZ), local India Payne (Phillip Island, Vic) and Lauren McAleer (Curl Curl, NSW, AUS)
Tyler was a finalist at the Australian titles at Ballina last December and attributes her win today to practise sessions she had Phillip Island when she travelled south in the family van two years ago.
Official results - Roxy Women’s Surf Festival, Phillip Island, Victoria, AUS:
Five-star Roxy World Qualifying Series
1st Stephanie Gilmore (Kingscliff, NSW, AUS) 18.17pts (US$4,000>2000 WQS ratings pts)
2nd Melanie Bartels (Oahu, HI) 8.76pts (US$2,000>1720 WQS ratings pts)
3rd Melanie Redman-Carr (Dunsborough, WA, AUS) & Serena Brooke (Coolangatta, Qld, AUS) (US$1700>1460 WQS ratings pts)
1-star ASP Roxy Women’s Longboard
1st Chelsea Williams (Coolangatta, Qld, AUS) 14.50 pts (AUD$2,000)
2nd Selby Riddle (Coolangatta, Qld, AUS) 6.40 pts ($1,000)
rd Rosie Locke (Noosa, Qld, AUS) 5.77 pts ($450)
4th Sharon Jackson (Alexandria Headland, Qld, AUS) 5.07 pts ($250)
6-star Pro Junior Women’s
1st Erica Hosseini (Newport Beach, CA, USA) 9.67pts (AUD$2,000)
2nd Alize’ Arnaud (Capbreton, FRA) 5.83pts (AUD$1,000)
1st Laura Enever (Narrabeen, NSW, AUS) 10.83pts
2nd Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW, AUS) 9.36pts
3rd Paige Hareb (NZ) 6.00pts
4th Airini Mason (NZ) 5.67pts
1st Laura Enever (Narrabeen, NSW, AUS) 11.83pts
2nd Tyler Wright (Culburra, NSW, AUS) 11.57pts
3rd Jess Laing (Phillip Island, Vic, AUS) 6.86pts
4th Kirby Wright (Culburra, NSW, AUS) 6.36pts
1st Tyler Wright (Culburra, NSW, AUS) 14.60 pts
2nd Sarah Mason (NZ) 8.90 pts
3rd India Payne (Phillip Island, Vic, AUS) 6.60 pts
4th Lauren McAleer (Curl Curl, NSW, AUS) 6.53 pts
1st Danielle Baylis (Phillip Island, Vic, AUS) 12.67pts
2nd Heather Peck (Ocean Grove, Vic, AUS) 5.66pts
3rd Mel Mott (Lennox Head, NSW, AUS) 3.17pts
4th Pauline Pullman (NZ) 0.23pts