GEORGESON WINS IN FRANCE AND CLOSES RATINGS GAP
Tuesday, June 7, 2005 (Seignosse, France): Chelsea Georgeson (AUS), beyond elated to narrowly triumph over Rochelle Ballard at the Rip Curl Venus Festival in Seignosse today, has bridged the gap between her and current WCT ratings leader, Sofia Mulanovich (PER).
A mere 228 points now separate the best friends – both making it abundantly clear that they're in contention for a world title and eager to engage in friendly fire to win one. Winning an event garners a girl 1200 points.
"It's been a great year so far – the best in my career," Georgeson said. "I'm really happy to be right up there on the rankings next to Sof, making her work for that second world title and really want it."
Mulanovich lost to Keala Kennelly (HAW) in the quarterfinals – not once gaining a heat lead over the Hawaiian whom she beat in the final in France last year.
"I'm pretty bummed…I'm really bummed, but it's not in my control. Sometimes the waves just don't come and that's how it is. I'm fine with it, sometimes you lose, sometimes you win and I guess it was just my time to lose," Mulanovich said. "It's okay, everything happens for a reason and whatever happens this year was meant to be, so all I can do is surf and try to do my best."
Mulanovich, who cheered on her Aussie pal from the beach during the final, was at the water's edge to hug Georgeson after her heat.
"It would actually be good to see her win, it would make everything more interesting," Mulanovich said after her quarterfinal bow out. "I really want a world title this year, really bad, but I know she does too. It would be better to win it by just a little bit and have a really good race."
The 22-year-old Australian sat patiently on the outside for most of the heat, overcoming 14-year tour veteran Ballard, with less than four minutes left on the clock.
"I just tried to be really patient. I knew I needed at least a high five or a six to take the lead, and I was pretty confident I could get that, I just needed a wave," said Georgeson. "I felt good and really just put everything I could into it when it came. It wasn't that great a wave and I fell on my last turn but I guess it was just good enough."
The extremely close heat was led by Ballard for most of those 35-minutes, but the skills and savvy Georgeson's displayed of late, discounts any critic who might call the win last-minute luck.
"I was a little bit impatient in my last couple of heats – taking waves I really didn't need and a lot of small ones. So this heat I really just wanted to catch the good waves and I knew I had 35-minutes to do it."
Ballard had time to answer back, but her last wave score of 4.50 fell short of the 6.26 she needed.
"I thought I had it. I knew it wasn't going to take much if Chelsea had an opportunity because she's been surfing really well and getting some great scores," Ballard said. "It was just a matter of getting a pump up in my score and I thought I could get it in that last wave that I had but it just shut down and didn't let me get a third move in when I really needed that third move."
Ballard finished second in the world last year; making three finals along the way but failing to win one. This is her best result this season.
"I'm just happy to have been in the final. I needed that because I've been working hard all year and I finally just let it flow and forgot about the heats and the scores and all that other stuff and just had a good time out there," said Ballard. "I'm kind of bummed that I didn't win because I haven't won in a while, but I'm still very, very stoked to have been in the final because the competition now is so stiff."
Ballard defeated fellow Hawaiian Keala Kennelly in the semis.
"I waited for a long time for a good wave and it just never came," Kennelly said. "It was a really close heat, the scores were just a half a point apart so it's hard when it's like that. I'm just really stoked I got third."
Laurina McGrath (AUS) made her first semifinal of the year, her third in her two-year career, but has yet to make a final. She approached her semifinal against Georgeson confidently, but couldn't derail her fellow Aussie's train.
"Everyone's got a chance but the way she's been surfing, I always knew it was going to be pretty hard but I just paddled out the same I would any other heat because I knew if I got two good waves I had a chance," said McGrath. Chels got the good waves and she surfed on them really well."
Perhaps a bigger upset that Kennelly's ousting of Mulanovich, was that of Maria Tita Tavares (BRA), who currently sits in last place on the ratings, defeating former six times world champion Layne Beachley (AUS) in the last heat of round three.
"The timing of the ocean was completely against me, and there was absolutely nothing I could have done," Beachley said after losing to the petite Tavares in two foot waves.
"She's a midget, it's all in her ankles and knees. The rest of us try and go on rail and we don't get rewarded for it, so of course I'm apprehensive about surfing against Tita in small waves. I know I can beat her in small waves but without actually catching a wave, there's nothing I can do. I'm bitterly disappointed, extremely frustrated and hating my life right now."
The girls have a four month break from WCT competition, the next stop taking place in Malibu in October. Many will compete in World Qualifying Series (WQS) events and go on boat trips during the break.
Mulanovich and Georgeson will celebrate tonight but hit the waves hard between now and the final leg of the tour. "I'm amped now," Georgeson said. "I'm just going to go home, surf, focus, and get prepared for it."
See a complete ratings list online at www.aspworldtour.com.
WOMENS WCT RATINGS AFTER EVENT #6: RIP CURL VENUS FESTIVAL HOSSEGOR/SEIGNOSSE, FRANCE
1. Sofia Mulanovich 5268 points
2. Chelsea Georgeson 5040 points
3. Layne Beachley 3765 points
4. Rochelle Ballard 3744 points
5. Megan Abubo 3564 points
6. Melanie Redman-Carr 3156 points
7. Keala Kennelly 3744 points
8. Rebecca Woods 2952 points
9. Jacqueline Silva 2736 points
9. Samantha Cornish 2736 points
FINAL: 1st = 1200 ratings points and US$10,000, 2nd = 972 ratings points and US$6,000
Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 12.90 def. Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 12.75
SEMIFINALS: 1st advances to FINAL, 2nd finishes equal 3rd and receives US$4,250
H1: Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 12.35 def. Keala Kennelly (HAW) 10.40
H2: Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 13.25 def. Laurina McGrath (AUS) 9.75