2007 NAB Beachley Classic Final Day

Megatalented Steph Gilmore takes over Beachley Classic

On either side of the planet this past week, a couple of Coolie Kids have been sorting out their destinies.

While Mick Fanning worked closer to a world championship in wacky beachbreaks at Bakio, Spain, his Snapper Rocks compadre Stephanie Gilmore has blown back into the women's rankings lead with a spectacular win at the NAB Beachley Classic at Curl Curl, Australia.

"I can't believe it!" Steph semi gasped after her win over Silvana Lima in one of the hottest women's WCT finals in years. But your correspondent reckons she could believe it, all right.

Possessed of the most perfectly formed style since Lisa Andersen, Ms Gilmore rode through the opposition with the athleticism of Fanning and the grace of Parko, racking up five nine-plus scores in her last three heats, and nothing she did seemed like an accident.

The result earned her $20,000, number one on the rankings, and another gold star on an increasingly stellar reputation.

Silvana – Brazilian and radical in every way – didn't do herself any harm either, with a super flamboyant final heat exhibition. A full foot shorter than Gilmore, she was a sharp style contrast, hurling herself off lips and trying throwaway air snaps, and pushing to the front with a massive tweaked off-the-lip. She was visibly upset after Gilmore took back the lead with just three minutes left and had to be talked down by several of the event crew before facing a post-heat media conference.

Intriguingly the event's namesake, Layne Beachley, was nowhere to be seen on finals day, after being eliminated in the quarterfinal round by 21-year-old Jessi Miley-Dyer. Ms Beachley was busy back at the event's original site at Queenscliff Beach, just a mile south, planning a {{{Celebrity}}} Surf Challenge.

The Beachley Classic shifted to Curl Curl after a new swell failed to push into Queenscliff. Curl Curl has an interesting reputation. As one local surfer once succinctly put it: "It promises a racehorse and delivers a donkey."

In other words: Curl Curl looks bloody good, until you're out there. That's when you realize you've been totally suckered in and the clean wedgey peaks you'd seen from the parking lot are in fact backwashy, unpredictable wobblefests.

While some pros struggled with the venue shift, most kicked in with precision surfing and high scores, much to the stunned amazement of many of the {{{200}}} or so male surfers at Curly who were taking advantage of the new swell. A quick vox pop by SURFING uncovered this broad response: we didn't know they surfed that good! "I witnessed one of the competitors free surfing outside the contest area and I can tell you she was ripping," said one surf forum contributor. "It made me sick!"

The women's tour now heads to the warm left points of Mancora in northern Peru for the sixth event in their eight-event WCT for 2007.

Gilmore now puts herself back into the ratings lead for a shot at the world title

(1st wins US$20,000; 2nd wins US$10,000)

Stephanie Gilmore def. Silvana Lima

(1st advances to Final; 2nd finishes =3rd)

Heat # 1: Silvana Lima def. Jessi Miley-Dyer
Heat # 2: Stephanie Gilmore def. Sofia Mulanovich

ASP Women's World Tour Ratings (after Stop No. 5 of 8)
1. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 4308 points
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