CURL CURL, Sydney (Sunday, Oct. 14 2007)
ASP World Tour rookie Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) proved unstoppable at Sydney's Curl Curl beach this morning, successfully defending her NAB Beachley Classic crown to reclaim the World No. 1 spot.
The 19-year-old who won this event as a wildcard in 2006, defeated Brazilian sensation Silvana Lima (BRA) in the toughest Final seen on the ASP Women's World Tour this year.
Competing in excellent 1-metre surf, Gilmore and Lima went wave for wave in their first ever match- up, producing performances that have taken women's professional surfing to new heights.
Gilmore edged out her South American foe with an overall score off 15.43 to Lima's 15.33 (both out of a possible 20.00 points), earning US$ 20 000, the richest prizemoney purse on the ASP Women's World Tour.
"I can't believe it!" Gilmore exclaimed after the Final. "That was one of the hardest heats of my life. It was back and forth the whole time and Silvana was getting waves that I didn't want and turning them into 7's and 8's. It was scary! To beat her is just incredible!"
Posting a near perfect 9.00 point ride (out of 10.00) off her second wave, Gilmore assumed an early heat lead which was soon crushed by Lima's consecutive 7.23 and a 7.17 rides.
While Gilmore waited patiently with priority, the ravenous Brazilian locked into a smaller inside wave, performing a clean cut-back and furious white water re-entry, to post an 8.10 and extend her lead.
As time drained, Gilmore needing a 6.07, the defiant blonde drew every ounce of potential out of a bumpy set wave, improving on her required score with a 6.43, from which Lima was never able to recover.
"I really didn't know what was going to happen and then I got that wave and luckily I got the scores," Gilmore said. "You just feel so proud of yourself when you win and I feel invincible right now."
Gilmore has returned to the World No. 1 position on the ASP ratings after slipping down to World No. 4, when she finished equal ninth in Spain.
"It feels insane to be back at World No 1," Gilmore said. "I'm surfing better than ever now. I'm feeling strong and confident and I'm just on top of the world!"
Lima retained her World No. 2 position, earning US$ 10 000 but was visibly devastated by yet another runner-up finish.
Her runner-up result today marks her third such result this year, after reaching the Finals in Brazil, Spain and now Sydney.
"I can't believe I lost!" Lima lamented. "It's still a good result for me and I know I am surfing well. We'll take it to the next event! I'm ready, let's go!"
A standout performer from start to finish, Lima punctuated the NAB Beachley Classic with her radical aerial manoeuvres, earning some of the event's top scoring rides, including a 9.10 against Jacqueline Silva (BRA) in the Quarterfinals.
Lima now lies less than 100 points behind Gilmore on the ASP ratings and fuelled by her defeat at Curl Curl today, will return to ASP competition as a formidable foe at the next three events.
Finishing equal third and earning US$ 8000 for their efforts, were Jessi Miley- Dyer (AUS) and Sofia Mulanovich (PER).
Miley- Dyer posted her best result of the 2007 season and has jumped from World No. 14 to World No. 9.
The former ASP World Junior Champion was defeated by an on-form Lima in Semifinal Heat 1.
"I'm really happy to reach the Semis, especially since it's in Sydney, my hometown," Dyer said. "I didn't start the year well but I feel a lot more confident in bigger waves so I am looking forward to Peru and Hawaii."
Mulanovich maintained her World No. 3 spot with an equal third today. The talented Peruvian surfer was defeated by Gilmore in Semifnal Heat 2 when she opted to sit on the left- breaking peak, giving Gilmore full reign of the right.
"I was just really lost out there I think," Mulanovich explained. "I chose to sit on the left peak instead of just taking the right with Steph. Steph is such an amazing surfer that if you let her run by herself, she's going to get the waves and score really high."
The result was Mulanovich's first equal third of 2007 and has put her in a good position going into the next event in Peru.
"I am stoked I made it to the Semifinals," Mulanovich said. "I'm pumped now that Steph's nailed me and I'm looking forward to the next event."
Former ratings leader coming into this event Samantha Cornish (AUS), has slipped down to World No. 4 after she was defeated by Jacqueline Silva (BRA) in Round 3 on Saturday.
Behind her lie Chelsea Hedges (AUS) who is still at World No. 5, while Layne Beachley (AUS) has moved up one spot to World No. 6.
The ASP Women's World Tour now moves to Mancora Peru for the Mancora Peru Classic, which takes place from October 30 – November 4, 2007.
NAB Beachley Classic Final Results:
Heat: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)15.43 def Silvana Lima (BRA) 15.33
NAB Beachley Classic Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Silvana Lima (BRA)14.17 def Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)10.00
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)16.60 def Sofia Mulanovich (PER)11.67
ASP Women's World Tour Ratings (after Stop No. 5 of 8)
1. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 4308
2. Silvana Lima (BRA) 4226
3. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 3811
4. Samantha Cornish (AUS) 3504
5. Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 3326
6. Layne Beachley (AUS) 2882
6. Amee Donohoe (AUS) 2882
7. Rebecca Woods (AUS)2448
8. Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS) 2347
9. Melanie Redman- Carr (AUS) 2232
10. Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 2114