Two-time ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (Snapper Rocks, AUS) has put last Saturday nights 21st celebration behind her to focus on the upcoming Roxy Pro presented by LG, the opening event on the 2009 ASP Women's World Tour.
Gilmore partied in style at the newly opened Caf Le Monde in Kirra with over one hundred family and close friends including 2007 ASP World Champion Mick Fanning and 1999 ASP World Champion Mark Occhilupo.
“I'm excited to be 21 and that was definitely my last hurrah before I kick off my training and preparation for the first the event of the year, the Roxy Pro,” Gilmore said. “I'm looking forward to getting back on the ASP Women's World Tour and trying to defend my two world titles.”
The arrival of five teenage rookies, the return of 2005 ASP Women's World Champion Chelsea Hedges (AUS) and the undeniable talent of Gilmore, Silvana Lima (BRA) and Sofia mulanovich (PER) will see competitive levels soar in 2009.
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 19, Bruna Schmitz (BRA), 18, Paige Hareb (NZL), 18, Alana Blanchard (HAW), 18, and Coco Ho (HAW), 17, will all debut as elite ASP Top 17 surfers in the USD90000 tournament at Snapper Rocks.
“This fresh young-line up of talent and personalities will have a massive, positive impact on the progression of the ASP women's world tour this year,” Gilmore said. “The rookies will learn a lot and produce some exciting rivalries at each event.”
Gilmore used a flawless finish to 2008 to clinch back-to-back ASP Women's World Titles at the Roxy Pro in Hawaii last year. The fluid natural-footer won the final three events of last season and is now determined to redeem her past two results at Snapper Rocks. In the 2008 Roxy Pro she finished a disappointing equal 9th and in 2007 placed equal fifth.
“I'm in an awesome position to be in heading into the start of the year,” Gilmore said. “So after having two bad starts in '07 and '08, I'm really going to make this a good one.”
Defending Roxy Pro champion and 2004 ASP Women's World Champion Mulanovich is expected to be amongst the top place-getters. The proud Peruvian has proven to be Gilmore's greatest rival for the coveted ASP Women's World Title over the past two years.
“I am excited to be starting the year at Snapper again,” Mulanovich said. "When you win a contest it becomes a really special place for you and gives you more confidence to go back there and try again.”
Mulanovich is also aware that the young guns will be capable of upsetting the established ranks.
“The rookies this year are stronger than ever, they are young and ready to cause some damage,” Mulanovich said.
Gilmore and Mulanovich's close friend and great rival Chelsea Hedges (AUS) has been awarded the ASP Wildcard slot, after finishing at 7th in the world in 2007, then taking off the 2008 season with the birth of her daughter Mieka.
The powerful goofy-footer who has been carving up the Gold Coast pointbreaks while enjoying motherhood posted her last world tour victory at the 2007 Roxy Pro.
“Chelsea is an incredible surfer and previous world champ," Gilmore said. “I'm sure after having time off and recently surfing her brains out here at home, she'll be one to watch in the title race this year.”
For the first time in the events history, seven-time ASP Women's World Champion Layne Beachley won't be included in the line-up having retired from full time touring. The withdrawal of the 36 year-old from Sydney's Northern Beaches has opened the door for Megan Abubo of Hawaii to compete.
The Roxy Pro presented by LG will be staged in conjunction with the opening ASP men's world tour event, the Quiksilver Pro presented by LG at Snapper Rocks on Australia's Gold Coast. The waiting period for both tournaments runs from February 28 through March 11, 2009.
Both opening ASP World Tour events are mobile, granting access to some of the best surf breaks on the planet. The tournament will be based at Snapper Rocks yet can travel from Stradbroke Island to Duranbah Beach on the Qld/NSW state border in search of optimum waves.
The official press launch will be held at Rainbow Bay SLSC at 11am (AEST) Thursday 26th February 2009.
The Roxy Pro presented by LG is proudly supported by, the Gold Coast City Council and the Rainbow Bay SLSC.