Sofia Mulanovich wins first South American world surfing title.

SURF: 6-8 ft. and rising.
EVENTS HELD: Quarters, Semis and Final of Roxy Pro. Last eight heats of Men’s Round of 64.
NATURE’S CALL: Let’s get it on.
PREDICTIONED: Kelly, Bruce, Andy and Parko blowing your mind.

“Ladies and gentlemen on the beach, Roxy’s Danny Kwock just stepped into the booth here with a rather large check.” This from the announcer. Out in the water, Layne Beachley, Chelsea Georgeson, Tita Tavares and Sofia Mulanovich are halfway through an extremely close finals heat of the Roxy Pro at Haleiwa. “Surfers in the water, listen up,” the PA continues. “The prize money for this event has just been doubled. That’s right. Doubled!” In the lineup, soon-to-be world champ Sofia turns to six-time champ Layne Beachley and asks, “Is that for everyone?” “No, Sofia,” Beachley quips, “just you.” She’s joking, of course. But the competitive undercurrent is palpable. Layne, despite going on to win the contest and the $20K, knows that Sofia is already the hero of the day. Any place but last in this heat secures the 21-year-old Peruvian her country’s first world title. And with the two of them trading first place each wave, the conclusion is inevitable. It’s been a big day for women’s surfing. Not just because of the long overdue and well merited bump in prize money. Not just because Sofia is the first ever world surfing champion from South America. It’s something more. The dawn of a new era, perhaps. A changing of the guard. You could see it from the first minute of today’s event, as all four quarterfinalist took off on eight-foot set waves with aggressive grace. As Jacqueline Silva tucked into a huge, reeling barrel Perfect 10s across the board. You could see it in Chelsea’s powerful, backside hacks. In Sofia’s consistent campaign of rock-solid surfing, which she later politely excuses as, “Just doing her best.” Women’s surfing has a new world champ. They popped the champagne, made special T-shirts and chaired her up the beach. But even more profound, women’s surfing seems to be entering a whole new era. Bigger waves. Bigger moves. And bigger money for ones making it happen. But some things haven’t changed. “I love my hats,” said Sofia, wearing her “La Numero Uno” truckers cap in the post contest love-fest. “I love my shirt, I love all the girls on the tour. I love everyone.” Ah, yes. Estrogen. Much nicer than that other stuff. And how did the nearly-ignored contest winner Layne Beachley feel. “It’s not bittersweet at all,” she said. “Just sweet.”

1. Layne Beachley $20,000
2. *Sofia Mulanovich $12,000
3. Chelsea Georgeson $9,000
4. Maria Tita Tavares $7,000

*2004 Women’s WCT Champion.

The remaining eight heats of Men’s Round of 64 were squeezed in before, in-between and after the Roxy Pro today, but this time it’s only fair to let the women’s surfing overshadow the men’s. Sorry boys. Tomorrow’s peaking swell kicks off the Round of 64, and the continued Triple Crown campaigns Tom Curren, Sunny Garcia and Ben Bourgeois. Andy and Bruce Irons, Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson will also be surfing their first heats of the competition. So don’t go away.