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RIP CURL PRO MALIBU (1 October – 9 October)

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[i][size=small]The past, present and future of women’s surfing were alive and well at the Rip Curl Malibu Pro today. Six time world champion and tour veteran Layne Beachley, along with 17-year-old event wildcard Stephanie Gilmore, set the seas aflame at historic Malibu Point in solid three-foot (one meter) waves.[/size][/i]A week into the nine-day waiting period, the women of the World Championship Tour (WCT) were finally the recipients of some solid swell and they took full advantage of it. Not last week’s wildfires and lake-like conditions nor this morning’s encroaching fog were able to hinder the heat that was generated by the world’s best women surfers today.

Gilmore, who had to navigate the Rip Curl Footwear Trials before earning the wildcard into the main event, finished in front of world champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER) and fellow Aussie Trudy Todd in round one. In a performance reminiscent of those she gave on the Gold Coast event where she went on to win as a wildcard earlier this year, Gilmore racked up one of the highest heat totals of the day with ease.

“I’m absolutely rapt. The waves were amazing! I was having flash backs of the Goldy where I wasn’t thinking I was in a heat. I was just freesurfing and absolutely loving it,” said Gilmore who was ecstatic about the conditions and her result thus far.

“I’m just so stoked that Rip Curl put me in the trials and that I was able to get through those and now round one. It’s all going according to plan!”

Contrary to what Beachley had planned, the world number three and most successful woman in professional surfing was forced to negotiate round two for the first time this year, an encounter only the surfers who fail to finish in the top two of round one must face.

“I wanted to redeem myself. I had such a bad time in my first heat that I took a different strategy this time round. I just waited for the best waves and it paid off,” said Beachley.

That strategy earned Beachley an almost perfect score of a 9.8 for her opening ride of round two.

“It feels good to be back in that scoring range because I think that’s where I should be. As a six time world champion, you’ve got to be up there with the best of everybody, if the young girls are scoring nines, then I should be too.”

For the first time in six years, Beachley is not the defending world champion and, currently sitting in third on the WCT rankings, she sits just behind a tight world title race between Mulanovich and world number two Chelsea Georgeson (AUS).

“I’m enjoying that the pressure is on everyone else and the focus is on everyone else and no one’s really counting me as part of the race,” Beachley said. “It gives me a lot of time to focus on my equipment and my strategy and kind of be a dark horse for once. I’m enjoying that lack of attention and lack of pressure. I’m here to prove a lot more to myself than to everyone else.”

And as far as the girl Beachley has her eyes on, “Stephanie is absolutely on fire. She obviously has Sofia very rattled and I think she has the rest of us on our toes too considering she waltzed into the first event of the year and beat us all. I’d like to be able to stop her, and if I come up against her, maybe I’ll get that opportunity.”

Logon to the webcast at and to watch the whole thing live!

ROUND ONE: 1st, 2nd =Round 3, 3rd =Round 2
Heat 1: Serena Brooke (AUS) 16.25, Megan Abubo (HAW) 12.25, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 5.90
Heat 2: Heather Clark (ZAF) 11.35, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 11.00, Layne Beachley (AUS) 10.50
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.70, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 14.60, Trudy Todd (AUS) 11.70
Heat 4: Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 15.50, Melanie Bartels (HAW) 8.75, Laurina McGrath (AUS) 8.00
Heat 5: Samantha Cornish (AUS) 16.25, Maria Tita Tavares (BRA) 11.65, Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 9.50,
Heat 6: Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) 14.25, Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 13.50, Keala Kennelly (HAW) 12.65

ROUND TWO: 1st, 2nd =Round 3, 3rd =Equal 17th and US$2,250 Prize Money
Heat 1: Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 15.50, Trudy Todd (AUS) 9.15, Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 6.00
Heat 2: Layne Beachley (AUS) 18.30, Keala Kennelly (HAW) 12.40, Laurina McGrath (AUS) 11.50