With three events down in the 2007 Women's World Championship Tour, it has become apparent that the younger women on tour have seriously stepped it up and served notice to the older veterans. Just last year, the title race was between veterans Layne Beachley and Melanie Redman-Carr. This year, both Beachley and Redman-Carr find themselves staring up at quite a few younger surfers in the ratings.
Rookie Stephanie Gilmore has been very consistent, and her 1st place rating reflects that. At 19 years old, she is aiming to become the youngest world champ in AS history. If she can maintain her form, she should have that accomplishment wrapped up before the tour heads to Maui for the Billabong Pro Maui.
Directly below her in the rankings are Sam Cornish and 2005 world champ Chelsea Hedges. Either of these two could vault past Gilmore if she were to lose early, so you can bet that they will be giving each heat their maximum effort from here on out.
Fantasy Surfer’s Hot Picks For the Upcoming
Rip Curl Girls Festival:
She’s come so close to winning a WCT event over the past two years, you just can’t help but feel that a win is just around the corner for her. At the end of the Billabong Pro Brazil, Lima looked tired in the final – like she had peaked a little too early. If she can harness her energy until the final, she can walk away a winner at the end of the day. She’s young, so she still has plenty of time – but with talent like hers she can win any event she wants if she can focus. A definite quarterfinalist and beyond if she can focus her energy.
How can you NOT pick Gilmore? She’s young, fast, and can dominate a heat like nobody else on tour except Chelsea Hedges. Her sponsor (Rip Curl) is the host of this event, so she may have a little added pressure there. But if she does, you’d never know it. Calm and collected just about every minute of the day, Gilmore can start putting the title out of reach for a large majority of the women if she wins this event. Look for her to meet up in the semifinals with another top seed for one of the best showdowns of the event.
Watch out ladies, this girl travels the tour with her husband / shaper during this leg of the tour. Last year, she lost all her boards en route to France, so her husband ran to a local shaping bay and busted out the board she eventually won the event on. That serves as a distinct advantage for her over her competition. Who needs to lug a quiver of boards around the world when you can bring your shaper with you? Look for her to keep herself near the top with another good result in Spain.
Home field advantage. Never underestimate how important this can be to a surfer. Sarran may be from nearby France, but rest assured – she’d surfed either at or near the event site in Spain. She’ll likely know a little bit more about the conditions and the wave than most of her competitors, and this should seriously help her turn her year around. The rookie needs a few good results, and the Rip Curl Girls Festival is her best shot at this point.
The disappointment in Woods' eyes after her loss in Brazil said it all. This girl wants it – needs it. She has to win. And getting as close as she did in Brazil will do one of two things – destroy her or fuel her. If you’ve ever met Woods, you know that it will fuel her. She has so much fire in her to win, you can see it in the way she surfs. Look for her to make a serious run at the top of the rankings in the next few events. And don’t be surprised to see her at the winner's podium for at least one event in 2007.
2007 RIP CURL GIRLS FESTIVAL
UPCOMING ROUND 1 HEATS
(1st & 2nd advance to Round 3; 3rd advances to Round 2)
Heat # 1: Melanie Redman-Carr, Sofia Mulanovich, Melanie Bartels
Heat # 2: Sam Cornish, Jessi Miley-Dyer, Caroline Sarran
Heat # 3: Chelsea Hedges, Jacqueline Silva, Wildcard (TBA)
Heat # 4: Layne Beachley, Megan Abubo, Rochelle Ballard
Heat # 5: Stephanie Gilmore, Amee Donohoe, Rosanne Hodge
Heat # 6: Silvana Lima, Rebecca Woods, Claire Bevilacqua
For more on the Rip Curl Gilrs Festival, visit the event website: