What: Rip Curl Women's Pro, ASP Womens World Tour event # 2 Where: Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia When: 18 - 29 March 2008
The world’s best female surfers have converged upon Bells Beach, Australia for event number 2 of 8 on the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Rip Curl Women’s Pro presented by Ford Fiesta.
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), reigning ASP Women’s World Champion and defending Rip Curl Women’s Pro Champion, is keen to make up for her slow start to the season on the Gold Coast, where the highly-touted natural-footer went down to wildcard Carissa Moore (HAW), finishing an equal 9th.
“Obviously I didn’t get the best start to the season, but I’ve put that behind me and am focusing on the job at hand," Gilmore said. “I love the wave at Bells and the whole vibe here is really special. I’m still taking this year heat by heat, and there have been a lot of life-changing aspects that have come along with being world champion, but I’m happy to be back in Bells and look forward to getting back to business."
Gilmore will battle ASP Top 17 veteran Jacqueline Silva (BRA) and trials winner Alana Blanchard (HAW) in round one. “At this point in the season, everyone should be considered a threat," Gilmore said. “Everyone is training really hard, and the wildcards can be a real challenge as they’re really hungry and have nothing to lose."
Sofia Mulanovich (PER), former ASP Women’s World Champ and winner of the ASP Women’s World Tour event at Bells Beach in 2005, is the current ratings leader on the 2008 ASP Dream Tour after a sensational victory at the season-opener on the Gold Coast, and will look to strengthen her lead in Victoria.
“The event here at Bells is always such a good contest as the atmosphere is really electric and the people here really care about surfing," Mulanovich said. “The wave at Bells is similar to the ones I have at home, so I feel really comfortable out here. I’ve had some good results in the past and I hope to have another good year at Bells."
Mulanovich will square off against a recently recovered-from-injury Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) and 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour rookie Karina Petroni (USA) in the first round. Last season, Mulanovich finished runner-up to Gilmore at the Rip Curl Women’s Pro at Bells Beach, and hopes for another solid performance this season. “To make the final here again would be great," she said. “It’s obviously a bit early to speculate, but Steph and I will try our best to repeat."
Layne Beachley (AUS), former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion and three-time winner of the ASP Women’s World Tour event at Bells Beach (’94, ’98, ’99), finished equal 4th at the season opener on the Gold Coast, but hopes that her experience and preparation will reap dividends at the Rip Curl Women’s Pro.
“I have been working with my shaper, Stuart Darcy, and trying new things with my equipment," Beachley said. “I have 3 new boards to try in 3 days to work out which will be best for Bells. Not an easy task, but Bells is one of my favorite waves and definitely one of the most prestigious trophies to have in a trophy cabinet. It's a challenging wave to ride as it confronts you with so many variables from barrels to fat sections and prevailing onshore winds so you have to be able to adapt to the continuous changing conditions and be really familiar with your equipment."
Beachley will face Julia De La Rosa (PER) and rookie Nicola Atherton (AUS) in the opening heat of round one when competition commences.
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Round 1 Match-Ups: Heat 1: Layne Beachley (AUS), Julia De La Rosa (PER), Nicola Atherton (AUS) Heat 2: Samantha Cornish (AUS), Megan Abubo (HAW), Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Jacqueline Silva (BRA), Alana Blanchard (HAW) Heat 4: Sofia Mulanovich (AUS), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), Karina Petroni (USA) Heat 5: Silvana Lima (BRA), Rosanne Hodge (ZAF), Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) Heat 6: Amee Donohoe (AUS), Rebecca Woods (AUS), Serena Brooke (AUS)
All the action of the Rip Curl Women’s Pro will be webcast live on the Rip Curl website.