Sandwiched between light onshore breezes at first light and stronger gusts as the event neared its close, the afternoon was marked by a blend of sunshine, faint winds, and slightly overhead sets. The scene at Honolua is quite different from that at Sunset: while the North Shore offers a built-in audience of eager surf spectators, and surfers simply walk a few steps and they're the action, Honolua lies a bit further off the beaten track. Some competitors chose to fly in, others decided to load up a crew in a truck on Oahu and take the interisland SuperFerry across the channel. Today, they dotted the cliffs—some hanging out of rental cars or lounging on tailgates, others piled in the bleachers or scaling the mountainside to surf the clean sets peeling off the top of the point. It was the perfect amphitheatre-like venue for the final event of the ASP Women's World Tour and the final jewel of the Vans Triple Crown. But with the title race over and the championship already firmly in Steph Gilmore's possession, the day lacked the anticipation-laden tension that usually accompanies the season final—the event seemed almost like mellow afterthought to the chaotic competitiveness of the previous weeks. That said, there was no shortage of competitive zeal; both the end-of-season rankings and the $85,000 prize purse are still very much at stake.
It may not have been a climatic Day One, but it had all the essential elements:
I've seen them in short video sections or contest webcasts or out in the water here and there, but seeing the up-and-coming girls all in one place really put the magnanimity of their generation in perspective. The young surfers—Carissa Moore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Paige Hareb, Coco Ho, Tyler Wright, Bruna Schmidtz, to name a few—surf with a power and style that, up until now, was reserved only for the seasoned pros. These teenagers don't surf like teenagers, and there is no doubt that as they gain competitive experience and perfect their styles, they will bring the whole tour up a notch.
Stephanie Gilmore. From her first wave where she cracked the lip with a huge, fins-free top turn and received a 9.75, it was evident that Steph was completely confident and comfortable in the water. She went on to catch wave after flawless wave. "This is one of my favorite waves in the whole world," she said after her heat. "I wanted to catch every wave that came through—I think I was a little bit greedy." I suppose being two-time World Champ really does something for one's self-assurance.
Silvana Lima. Relegated to the final heat of the day, Silvana faced the textured and wind-tormented remnants of the day's swell, but the tiny Brazilian seemed unbothered, offering up critical and incredibly timed maneuvers that not only awarded her the highest heat total of the day—an 8.5 and a 9.5 in round Three—but bumped her up into the second-place position in the final 2008 ASP World Tour rankings.
Melanie Bartels. "I love the way Mel surfs" seemed to be the chorus sung by many onlookers and fellow competitors watching today's competition. Although Jessi Miley-Dyer—a former event winner and last year's runner-up—offered an amazing display of backside prowess, she was unable to stop the Melanie Bartels in Round Three. She has a unique and powerful ability to light up heats, and if she's able to harness and maintain that, there is little doubt she will give the champ a run for her money.
Carissa Moore. Surviving the pre-trials at Ho'okipa on Sunday (the local contest where contestants vied for a seat in today's Honolua trials), the trial heat this morning, and two rounds today, Carissa surfed with her usual progressive flair—a flair that catapulted her past former World Champ Sofia Mulanovich and into the final day of competition.
The "Glad He's Not Talking About Me" Quote of the Day
"Who is that? Go flat his tires! I think I know that guy's license plate or social security number…" said by the big, intimidating security guard when someone surfed through the contest zone.
The Race for the Triple Crown
After a finals finish in Haleiwa and a semifinal finish at Sunset, Layne leads the Triple Crown. Steph and Silvana are not far behind, so from here on out every place point matters. For Layne, a Triple Crown win would be the perfect icing on her retirement cake.
What's to Come
The surf is projected to get a bit stormy over the next few days, but the second and final day of competition is slotted to run as soon as conditions are ideal. Here are the quarterfinal match-ups when the event resumes:
Layne Beachley (AUS) vs. Rosanne Hodge (ZAF)
Rebecca Woods (AUS) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Melanie Bartels (HAW)
Megan Abubo (HAW) vs. Silvana Lima (BRA)
DAY ONE RESULTS:
Heat 1: Samantha Cornish (AUS) 12.50, Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 12.15, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 11.25
Heat 2: Layne Beachley (AUS) 16.50, Jacqueline Silva (BRA), 9.75, Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) 8.25
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.15, Nicola Atherton (AUS) 8.55, Paige Hareb (NZL) 7.95
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.25, Megan Abubo (HAW) 10.90, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 7.65
Heat 5: Silvana Lima (BRA) 12.50, Melanie Bartels (HAW) 11.75, Serena Brooke (AUS) 9.65
Heat 6: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 16.10, Karina Petroni (USA) 14.00, Amee Donohoe (AUS) 8.75
Heat 1: Paige Hareb (NZL) 13.25, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 13.00, Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) 11.60
Heat 2: Amee Donohoe (AUS) 12.85, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 12.75, Serena Brooke (AUS) 10.15
Heat 1: Layne Beachley (AUS) 15.00 def. Nicola Atherton (AUS) 11.65
Heat 2: Rosanne Hodge (AUS) 13.70 def. Samantha Cornish (AUS) 13.35
Heat 3: Rebecca Woods (AUS) 12.00 def. Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 7.75
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 17.50 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 9.85
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.50 def. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 5.75
Heat 6: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 16.80 def. Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 15.50
Heat 7: Megan Abubo (HAW) 12.25 def. Amee Donohoe (AUS) 7.00
Heat 8: Silvana Lima (BRA) 18.00 def. Karina Petroni (USA) 11.75