Gilmore wins the Billabong Pro Maui
Stephanie Gilmore, newly-crowned two-time ASP Women’s World Champion, defeated Melanie Bartels to claim her second consecutive Billabong Pro Maui in clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves on offer at Ho’okipa Beach Park.
The final event of the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Billabong Pro Maui opted for the relocation this morning from Honolua Bay to Ho’okipa Beach Park (the first relocation in the event’s 10-year history) in order take advantage of the swell on offer, and the action didn’t disappoint.
Gilmore opened the Final strong, posting a solid 7.33 out of a possible 10, but Bartels put her in the corner with two solid scores of her own. In an exciting exchange that saw the Hawaiian pull ahead on the first wave, Gilmore answered back with the highest score of the day, a 9.57 out of a possible 10 to retake the lead, immediately following it up with an 8.03 for a massive forehand turn combination. Bartels was unable to answer back.
“The tide dropped and the conditions got really fun,” Stephanie Gilmore said. “Mel (Bartels) is one of my favorite surfers and I just go as hard as I can when I draw her in a heat. You can’t put in a performance at half-speed and I saw her get a solid wave so I just went for broke on the next one and it paid off.”
The win marks the first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Title for the prodigious natural-footer, an accolade considered second only to the ASP Women’s World Title.
“It feels incredible to win the Vans Triple Crown Title,” Gilmore said. “We had really fun waves at Haleiwa and then solid surf at Sunset Beach and we had a beautiful opening day of competition at Honolua Bay before finishing today at Ho’okipa. It’s a real honor to be considered a good surfer in Hawaii and in such a variety of conditions.”
Gilmore will now head home to Australia to rest and recharge for the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour, and with two ASP Women’s World Titles, a Vans triple Crown Title and 11 elite tour victories under her belt (five in 2008 alone), the makings of an icon are well within place.
“To win so much in my short career is incredible and it feels great, but I know there is so much more to accomplish,” Gilmore said. “I had that head with Layne (Beachley) today, and to see what she’s accomplished in her career makes me that much hungrier to continue to perform at my best. Next year is going to be incredible. We have so much talent on the tour and so many young girls who are really pushing the boundaries of surfing. I can’t wait to get home and prepare for next season.”
Bartels, whose runner-up finish sees the explosive Hawaiian rocket to No. 7 on the ASP Women’s World Tour, put in a solid effort in the Final (at one point holding lead), but her 14.80 out of a possible 20 wasn’t enough to overcome Gilmore.
“I have one of the most amazing shapers in the world who lives right up the beach and my boards today were going unbelievable,” Bartels said. “I felt like I was surfing well all day, but just got out of rhythm in the Final. Congratulations to Steph (Gilmore) though. She was surfing amazing and deserved the win.”
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The Billabong Pro Maui commenced in picturesque four-to-five foot (2 metre) surf at Honolua Bay, allowing the ladies of the ASP Top 17 to revel through three rounds of competition, deciding the Quarterfinalists for when competition resumes.
With no surf available at Honolua Bay, event organizers for the Pro Maui have called competition off for the day and have announced the relocation to Ho’okipa Beach Park on the northern side of Maui for tomorrow’s competition.