2005 O’Neill Women’s Challenge At Sunset Beach: Melanie Redman-Carr Wins Women’s Surfing Event

SURF: 6 feet and soooo fat
NATURE'S CALL: Alana Blanchard surfs better than you
PREDICTED: Bethany Hamilton singing "Ladies Night" at the nearest karaoke bar

Women's surf contests are cool. After years of taking notes on the dudes, what with their steely eyed glares, unbreakable game faces and subdued gentleman's claps after a fellow competitor's mindless ride, I was pleasantly surprised to find the scene at the O'Neill Women's Challenge….well, different.

For one, you certainly wouldn't hear someone like Jake "The Snake" Paterson rant about weight issues like West Oz's Claire Bevilacqua did before her final: "I wish I didn't want to eat all the time," she told her friend. "If I made finals every day at Sunset, I'd have no fat."

You also wouldn't hear Andy Irons belt out the tune, "I'm So Excited" at the top of his lungs during the dawn patrol warmup. But you would here, thanks to wunderkind Bethany Hamilton, who not only can sing at Sunset, she can surf at Sunset. Pancho Sullivan was out with her in the morning, giving her a few tips and showing her the lineup, when she swung around on a solid, 6-foot west peak and carved it to the channel. "What she did at Haleiwa blew me away," said Pancho. "But this is just a whole nother level."

You probably wouldn't see a 15-year-old kid from Kauai win a Pipe contest earlier in the year and then make the final against the world's best at Sunset. But you would here, with Bethany's best friend, Alana Blanchard, showing no nerves in the tricky, 6- to 8-foot conditions. As one of the bleacher peanut gallery observed: "Pipe, Sunset…it's time for Alana to say, 'Show me the money!'"

And there's no way in hell you'd see the entire contingent of competitors gather together in the bleachers for the final, and – in unison – let out a shrieking scream for Melanie Redman Carr's contest-winning 9.33 barrel across the inside bowl. A barrel that had the girls cackling for minutes and made longboard queen Belen Connelly conclude: "Girls are just so much more fun than boys. They don't give a f—k."

That certainly was the case for runner-up Rochelle Ballard, who paddled out for the final, pulled into a mean Inside Bowl, and broke her board. She paddled back out, immediately stroked into a bigger and even meaner inside ledge, pulled in, drove…and broke another board. My ears are still ringing from the response to that one.

But in the end, "Roach" couldn't find one that would let her out. West Oz charger Redman Carr held on for the win, hugged her friends and said: "A win here at Sunset is definitely one to remember."

I think it is for all of us.

After a few days' rest, the men are back in business. And it's all business now, as guys like Gabe Kling, Beau Mitchell, Jay Thompson and Jarrad Howse hope to find that golden ticket to the Big Leagues. There's also some hungry {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown title gobblers out there, including Sunny Garcia, Andy Irons, Mick Fanning and others. With the swell shifting a bit more to the northwest, it looks like all Bowling lanes will be open.