The Roxy Womens Surf Festival 2007, an ASP 5 Star WQS Womens Event, will be taking place from 22-29th January at Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia.
The event will kick-start one of the most exciting years on the women’s Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour according to 2005 world champion Chelsea Georgeson (Avalon, NSW, AUS).
Georgeson, the current world number three and a former two-time winner of the Phillip Island tournament, says the inclusion of hot female talents like Hawaiian specialist Melanie Bartels (Oahu, HI) and teen sensation Stephanie Gilmore (Kingscliff, NSW, AUS) to the elite ranks in 2007 is expected to push surfing performances to exciting new heights.
The 23-year-old will know just how accurate her prediction is when she pulls on her wetsuit in coming days and paddles out at one of Phillip Island’s world-class venues alongside a total of 13 of the world’s top 17 rated women – all of whom are headed down under with the thought of claiming the Festival’s high-rated five-star World Qualifying Series division foremost on their minds.
“I’m sure there will be some of the best women’s surfing anyone has ever seen,” said Georgeson, who traditionally treats the week-long meet as a warm up bout for the opening World Championship Tour event on the Gold Coast each March.
“With the new girls like Mel and Steph coming onto the tour it will be a really exciting year. The vibe at Phillip Island is great, the comp is always really well run and the waves always seem to turn on. It’s great to start out fresh there each year.”
Eighteen year-old Gilmore is the defending Roxy Women’s Surf Festival WQS division champion and celebrated her birthday on the victory podium there last year. She was also responsible for eliminating Georgeson in the semi-finals to set up a win that eventually enabled her to qualify for the world tour.
“Steph is an awesome surfer, it will be great to see her on the tour and I am sure she will do well at Phillip Island again,” claimed Georgeson. “I’m certain she will be amped to try and win there again, I guess we will have to wait and see.”
Gilmore’s stunning rise to the world scene has also included two major WCT tournaments, both won from the trials as a wildcard. But if anything is spurring Georgeson on, it’s as much to do with re-claiming what was taken from her by Layne Beachley (Manly, NSW, AUS) in Hawaii last December, as it is the threat of rampaging rookies.
“I had an interesting year last year, within a year I had won a world title and lost a world title,” said Georgeson. “It seems funny, but now that I’m not world champ this year, it’s made me more amped to try and get it back in 07.”
Another surfer who won’t be underestimated at Phillip Island is 2006 Roxy Women’s Surf Festival WQS runner-up Jessi Miley-Dyer (Bronte, NSW, AUS). The 20-year-old surpassed her own expectations last year, winning the ASP world junior title, posting her maiden WCT victory, taking out the WQS circuit and finishing at world number four after her inaugural year on tour to be awarded the ‘ASP Rookie of the Year Title’.
“I love having breaks, but I am a very competitive person and the batteries have been recharged so I’m looking forward to this year’s event, competing and having fun with my friends,” said Miley-Dyer. “It’s a great warm up, everyone loves Phillip Island, it lets us gauge how we are going, coming into the main season again and a chance to try out boards.”
The Roxy Women’s Surfing Festival is Australia’s biggest celebration of women’s surfing bringing together a huge cross section of participants contesting seven divisions. Miley-Dyer values the unique female surfing spirit that the stand-alone tournament epitomises.
“I’ve always loved this contest, I used to be in the pro junior and I’ve been coming here since I was 15. It’s awesome to get to have a sneak peek of how much the younger girls are ripping,” said Miley-Dyer. “I loved coming to this event when I was a grommet, where I could watch the WCT girls, so I know that feeling, of getting stoked watching contests that the grommets get at Phillip Island.”
Other surfers expected to excel include world number two Melanie Redman-Carr who is well suited to the powerful waves with the West Australian having won the 2005 tournament. Plus 2004 world champion and fourth seed Sofia Mulanovich (Peru), Rebecca Woods (Copacabana, NSW, AUS) and Claire Bevilacqua (Scarborough, WA, AUS).
The sport’s future stars will be showcased in the Pro Junior Girls divisions with U/18 Quiksilver Australian Grommet champion Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW, AUS) sure to be one of the top contenders.
The Roxy Pro Womens Surfing Festival will be based at Woolamai but mobile for the best quality surf on the island. While the water may be colder for most, there are have a choice of nearly 20 quality breaks, depending on conditions, with contestants ready to surf a variety of reef, point and beach breaks.
The Roxy Pro Womens Surf Festival Divisions include:
- World Qualifying Series (WQS) 5 star (US$25,000)
- 6-star Pro Junior Girls (AU$6,000) – 20 Years & under
- 1-star Regional WLT/7A Australian Women’s Longboard ALC Pro Tour (AU$4,000)
- U/13’s, U/16’s, U/18’s and Over 35’s Amateur Divisions
The 2007 Festival incorporates the Chill Island music festival on Saturday January 27th with headline acts: The Cat Empire, The Beautiful Girls, Ash Grunwald and more… Visit the Chill Island website for extra info and ticketing: www.chillisland.org. Samsung will be offering a K5 MP3 player for the most impressive surfer of the week. Open to any surfer in any division, as chosen by the expert panel of event commentators.
The Roxy Womens Surf Festival is proudly supported by the Victorian State Government, ASP Australasia, Surfing Victoria, Bass Coast Shire Council, and Phillip Island Nature Park and incorporates the Chill Island Music Festival.