The second stop on the ASP Women’s World Tour, the Rip Curl Women’s Pro at Bells Beach, Australia, will see the event’s triumphant return to the ASP calendar after a 2006 absence. Running from April 3-8, 2007, the Rip Curl Women’s Pro can be completed in two full days of surfing. It will run in tandem with the men’s division of the Rip Curl Pro which takes four days to run and has a waiting period that stretches an additional five days until April 13, 2007.
Though an ASP Women’s World Tour event was held at Bells Beach in 2005, the venue hasn’t enjoyed a cemented spot on the ASP calendar since 2001. Only six of the current Top 17 were elite tour competitors at that time.
Defending Rip Curl Pro Champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER) will join three-time Bells Beach victor Layne Beachley (AUS) and 2000 event champion Megan Abubo (HAW) as the only surfers competing in the 22nd installment of women’s competition at Bells with wins to their credit.
Several girls will be surfing Bells Beach as elite-tour competitors for the first time. Despite making their World Tour debuts there next week, competitors like ASP Women’s World Tour rookie Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and second-year tourer Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) are likely to have logged more time at the break than many of their cohorts courtesy of national junior competitions.
“I love Bells,” Miley-Dyer said. “I’ve been surfing it since I was a kid and watching goofy-footers like Damian Hardman and Occy tearing the place apart when the Rip Curl Pro was on. I’m stoked that we have a comp there and I can finally pretend to be them!” Miley-Dyer will meet Hawaii’s Megan Abubo and Brazil’s Jacqueline Silva in Heat 6 of Round 1.
Gilmore has drawn fellow rookie Caroline Sarran (FRA) and Rebecca Woods (AUS) in Round 1. The surfers finishing first and second in Round 1 advance straight to Round 3. The surfer finishing third in Round 1 has to surf Round 2 and risk elimination.
“I think it always helps to get some quality time in before the comp starts,” Gilmore said. “Lucky for me I’ve done a few years of pro junior events at Bells leading up to qualifying. That and I tend to like any right hander really.” Gilmore won two ASP Women’s World Tour events as a wildcard before qualifying for this year’s tour, and as such, will not underestimate how far a surfer free from the pressure of ratings points and expectations can go.
The Rip Curl Women’s Pro Wildcard has been awarded to local surfer and four-time Victoria state champ Amy Stewart (AUS). The 20-year-old natural-footer hails from Jan Juc and will have a home-break advantage not enjoyed by anyone else in the draw. “It’s a tricky but fun wave when you get it down,” Stewart said. “It’s only up the road from me so I’ve spent a fair bit of time out there.”
Stewart will draw current World No. 1 Chelsea Hedges (AUS) and Samantha Cornish (AUS) in Heat 3 of Round 1 when the Rip Curl Women’s Pro commences. Additional information is available online at www.aspworldtour.com and www.ripcurlpro.com
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) is the governing body of professional surfing. Crowning surfing’s undisputed world champions since 1976, the ASP sanctions the following tours: the Foster’s ASP World Tour, the ASP Women’s World Tour, the World Qualifying Series (WQS) and the World Longboarding, Junior and Masters Championships.
The ASP is dedicated to showcasing the world’s best surfing talent in a variety of progressive formats and has revolutionized the way the world watches surfing via their webcasts. The organization is divided into seven different regions: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America, and South America.