When the top women surfers in the world showed up at Malibu in October, the surf was flat, the hills were on fire and the water was brown with red tide. After a 10-day waiting period in which there was almost no surf, a predicted south swell began to show on Friday afternoon and was in full roar on Saturday the 10th. With a high tide and offshore winds in the morning, Malibu was almost double-overhead and about as good as it gets — the perfect canvas for the world's best women to go berserk.
Down in the competitors' tent, Chelsea Georgeson was relaxing between her Third Round heat and Semifinal heat against Trudy Todd.
SURFERMAG.COM: Who was in your last heat?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Melanie Bartels.
SURFERMAG.COM: Smoked her didn't you?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: I got a couple of good ones.
SURFERMAG.COM: Megan Abubo said she felt a little off and so did others because you have been here 10 days and there has been no surf.
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Doesn't help. They couldn't even hold the Trials at Secos two days ago.
SURFERMAG.COM: But you've got some surf now. You are aware that you guys are scoring?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Yeah I know. We came last year and it was ankle-high the whole time.
SURFERMAG.COM: This is pretty good Malibu. Doesn't look like this every day, unfortunately. Where would you compare this to on the Tour?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: I'd probably compare it to good Bells or good Snapper, that sort of thing. A bit fatter though.
SURFERMAG.COM: A little slower?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Yeah, kind of like the inside bowl at Bells, for sure.
SURFERMAG.COM: Well, if the tide was low coming up and you had stronger offshores it gets zippy.
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Well even now with the tide you can tell it's starting to get a little more rippable, so you can hit it a bit more.
SURFERMAG.COM: How has your tour been surfwise so far?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: It's been pretty bad, yeah. I mean we've had some pretty good waves. Snapper was pretty good. Bells was really bad. Really small and windy. In Fiji we had big waves but it wasn't really good direction and pretty windy. In Tahiti we got pretty good waves actually, on and off. One heat got good waves and another didn't. France was pretty small but England was actually pretty good, for England.
SURFERMAG.COM: They had a WCT in England?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Yeah we did. It was … freezing.
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Um, where was it … not Fistral? Was it Fingal? Perranporth.
SURFERMAG.COM: Never heard of it.
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Cornwall.
SURFERMAG.COM: Down south, in the tropics of England.
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Yeah right. We had some decent waves there. It was probably the best until now.
SURFERMAG.COM: Look at all these perfect, 3-foot insiders going by with no one on them.
CHELSEA GEORGESON: I know, everyone's freaking out.
SURFERMAG.COM: It seems like it's getting more consistent now with the tide.
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Yeah, totally. There were some long lulls this morning. Plays with your nerves.
SURFERMAG.COM: I don't mean this to be condescending, but Malibu is the perfect venue for a women's event, no?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Yeah, it definitely shows some good surfing from the girls. It's an easy wave and really playful. I'd like it faster though. Oh, here comes Layney! Go! Oh!
[At this point Layne Beachley rips a wave from the top of the point, past the judges stand, handles a bunch of Makaha-like backwash and pulls into a respectably gnarly shorebreak (for Malibu), like Michael Ho and Bruce Irons at Waimea Bay.
Chelsea runs forward to look as the crowd goes berserk.
Layne disappears in all the foam as it crashes up the slopey berm and she is gone for more than a little while. Then she stands up holding her wrist as the lifeguard sitting in front of the judges' stand stands up and looks over.]
SURFERMAG.COM: Layne goes kamikaze!
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Yeah! Gnarly in the shorey!
SURFERMAG.COM: Is she OK?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: She's Layne. She's tough.
SURFERMAG.COM: So where are you in the standings right now?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Second behind Sofia.
SURFERMAG.COM: Oh, you're in Second? Pardon my ignorance.
CHELSEA GEORGESON: No worries.
SURFERMAG.COM: What is left after this?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Hawaii. One in Haleiwa and one on Maui.
SURFERMAG.COM: No Sunset?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: No, not this year. O'Neill wanted to have a 'QS there but you know it was kind of last minute.
SURFERMAG.COM: Do you like Sunset?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: No, we love Sunset, but we just need a sponsor.
SURFERMAG.COM: Didn't you win Maui last year?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Yep.
SURFERMAG.COM: Who do you expect to win this?
CHELSEA GEORGESON: Well I don't know. Layne had a really good heat before and …
[The horn goes off to end the heat and Chelsea is distracted.]
… it's anyone's game out there. Wave selection.
Georgeson paddled out into consistent, 5-foot Malibu and lost to Trudy Todd in the Quarterfinals. Todd went on to win the event and finished her competitive career with a bang: "I said to the girls, 'You know, I really want to go out winning a contest and being on top instead of getting kicked off the Tour and looking like a kook,' so I guess I did that," Todd was quoted in an ASP press release. "My last win was in Maui in 1999 — back when I was in my prime. I broke my back in 2000 and have had cancer twice in the last six years, so I'm retiring because my health is good and I really want to get married, have kids and have a life other than the Tour."
After Malibu, Georgeson was still in Second Place in the ratings behind Mulanovich. Georgeson, Mulanovich, Abubo and Beachley are all within reach of the Championship. For Beachley to capture a seventh World Title and for Abubo to win her first, the girls would need to win the final two events of the year with Mulanovich and Georgeson eliminated before the Quarterfinals in both events. Even if Mulanovich wins the next event held in Haleiwa Beach, Hawaii, from November 12-24, as long as Georgeson makes the Semifinal, the race will run through to the final event of the year at Honolua Bay, Maui, from December 8-19.