Beachley Claims Unprecedented Sixth Consecutive World Title

Friday, December 12, 2003 (Honolua Bay, Maui) Australian Layne Beachley set an unprecedented record by winning her sixth consecutive ASP world title. Samantha Cornish (Aus) then defeated her to win the Billabong Pro Maui final. The US$60,000 Women’s World Championship Tournament (WCT) commenced with round three this morning and then ran all the way through for an epic finale this afternoon. Perfect 4-5 ft (1.5m) waves were again on offer at Honolua, with clean barrels racing along the picturesque righthand point break. Another beautiful sunny day provided the ideal backdrop as the world’s best female surfers performed. The pressurized day was full of drama as each round unfolded with world title scenarios on the line and the all-important ratings race nearing its conclusion. As the quarterfinals wound up virtually all contenders still remained, yet it was during the semifinals history was created.

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Beachley secured her finals berth and then nervously watched from the shoreline as ratings leader Keala Kennelly (Kauai, Haw) did battle in the second semi. The Kauaian needed to advance to keep the dream alive, and was forced to play catch-up throughout following opponent Cornish’s initial 7.5 score. A determined Kennelly never gave up however, and the 25-year-old came within the closest of margins. Requiring a 7.46 toward the end, she posted a 7.4 with some great backhand re-entries. Having narrowed the gap, she then needed another 6.61, but on her final ride only earned a 4.75 and the race was over.

For 31-year-old Beachley, the moment signified becoming surfing’s only six-time consecutive world champion – a feat even Kelly Slater (FL, USA) didn’t achieve. The record-breaking year commenced with a win on Australia’s Gold Coast in March, and then she secured a runner-up placing in France last WCT, before glory poured upon her this afternoon. “Oh my god,” began Beachley, with tears in her eyes as friends and media gathered. “I can’t believe this. It’s been quite an emotional year. I started so strong and then took a dive in the middle of the season, but I’ve come back at the end. I guess that’s what it takes to be a world champion, you just never give up and I haven’t. I’m really fired up to come back next year and try and win seven. “This is my sixth consecutive world title and it creates history cause no other surfer in the history of ASP has done this,” she continued. “Even though Kelly won six, he didn’t win them consecutively, so this is a new one for the record books. It’s such an amazing achievement and something I’m still in complete disbelief over. I’m really happy and so thankful for all the support of my friends and family, especially throughout the last few days. And of course thanks to Sam for winning that last heat (laughs).”

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When the 35-minute final got underway soon after, it was all back to business though. Beachley created a commanding lead and appeared set to finally win a Billabong Pro Maui title. Cornish changed everything however, earning a near-perfect 9.5 and ultimately another 5.8 score last wave to seal her maiden WCT victory. Having also equaled the highest total of the event for 17.75-points this morning, 23-year-old Cornish announced her intentions early and locked in the #5 position on the ratings with the fantastic result.

“It’s unbelievable,” began Cornish. “Layne winning the world title today and for me to come out on top in the final… Today was one of the best days of my life. I got so many perfect barrels and had such a great time here. I didn’t even feel like I was surfing in a contest. “When she created a bit of a lead I was thinking maybe it wouldn’t happen, but then I got that 9.5 and it spurred me on to dig deep,” she continued. “It came through at the end, so I’m really happy. I guess I’ve paid my dues the last two years on the WCT and gained experience. Hopefully next year I’ll have enough to get off to a good start and go for a wld title.” For Beachley, this was a runner-up finish she could take smiling. Having posted her first perfect 10 on the opening ride of this year’s Billabong Pro Maui and then sealing the ratings race, she graciously accepted one title slipping from grasp. “I was really keen to win the event and top off such an amazing day,” admitted Beachley. “I was surprised Sam scored a 9.5, but she was surfing extremely well and we both put on a strong performance. Maybe I was a little too relaxed in the final? The waves were really good and it went right down to the wire. At the end of the day I’ve won six world titles and she’s won her first event.”

Equal third today were Kennelly and Heather Clark (SAfr). For the Kauaian – who posted two wins this year in Fiji and then the following Billabong Pro Teahupoo event in Tahiti, for a commanding lead – today’s result was a bitter blow after months of anticipation. Nonetheless, the 25-year-old surfed valiantly in the deciding match and proved a true champion in defeat. “It all came down to this day and was pretty amazing,” began Kennelly. “Everybody in contention made the quarters onwards and there was unreal surfing, so it was exciting stuff. If you were going to win the world title you definitely had to earn it today. That heat with Sam was close. She got an early lead and I came back strong at the end, but just didn’t seem to get the scores. There’s always next year and good on her (Layne). She earned it today.

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“The Triple Crown was the last of my thoughts,” she acknowledged, when told she’d won the prestigious Triple Crown of Surfing award for her combined efforts over the past three Hawaiian events. “It was all about the world title today, but at least I won something (laughs). About time a Hawaiian won the Hawaiian Triple Crown.” South African Clark regained third position on the ratings with her fourth semifinal finish at Honolua. Against Beachley she trailed a commanding lead after the champs’ early 8.5 ride, but did manage to fight back and only required a 7.5 score towards the end. Unfortunately nothing broke during the last 3-minutes. “I’m glad we had waves,” said Clark. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming up against Layne out here, especially after seeing that barrel yesterday. She got a 10 but I thought it was more like a 12 (laughs). This is my fourth year I’ve got a third here, so I’m consistent and pretty happy with that. Obviously I wanted to make the final and maybe win a ‘CT, but I’ll be back next year. My goal coming here, if I couldn’t win a title, was to finish third on the ratings, so I’m stoked.” Finishing equal fifth in the Billabong Pro Maui were 1993 world champ and last year’s event runner-up Pauline Menczer (Byron Bay, Aus), 1999 event winner Trudy Todd (Gold Coast, Aus), Melanie Redman-Carr (West Aus) and Chelsea Georgeson (Aus). Todd posted the highest combined heat score of the event against an equally in-form Rochelle Ballard (Haw) for 17.75-points this morning, but then lost a nail-biting match with Beachley in the quarterfinals.

Georgeson was a dark horse for the world title leading into the Billabong Pro Maui rated third, having won the previous WCT in France. Super dangerous on her backhand, the 2002 ASP ‘Rookie of the Year’ was ultimately stopped by a rampaging Cornish, needing an additional score worth 7.85-points. The goofy footer unfortunately fell on one good wave near the end and there lost her chance.

“It’s a bit of a shame I blew my chance at the title, but there’s always next year,” said Georgeson. “I’m stoked with how things worked out this year. I won my first WCT, so everything from then was a bonus.” Defending Billabong Pro Maui champion Jacqueline Silva (Brz) was eliminated in round three this morning by Menczer, while then ratings #5 Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) also lost to Cornish and also placed 9th overall.

Billabong Pro Maui Final Results

1st Samantha Cornish (Aus) 15.3 – US$10,000
2nd Layne Beachley (Aus) 15.0 – US$6,000
Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$4,000)
SF1: Layne Beachley (Aus) 15.0 def. Heather Clark (SAfr) 14.6
SF2: Samantha Cornish (Aus) 14.0 def. Keala Kennelly (Haw) 13.95
Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$3,000)
QF1: Heather Clark (SAfr) 16.5 def. Pauline Menczer (Aus) 11.25
QF2: Layne Beachley (Aus) 14.1 def. Trudy Todd (Aus) 12.65
QF3: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 15.0 def. Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) 6.9
QF4: Samantha Cornish (Aus) 16.6 def. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 12.75
Round Three (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$2,500)
H1: Heather Clark (SAfr) 14.25 def. Marie Pierre Abgrall (Fra) 7.5
H2: Pauline Menczer (Aus) 11.65 def. Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 11.15
H3: Trudy Todd (Aus) 17.75 def. Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 16.15
H4: Layne Beachley (Aus) 14.75 def. Julia Christian (USA) 6.75
H5: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 9.25 def. Kate Skarratt (Aus) 8.75
H6: Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) 14.75 def. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 8.4
H7: Samantha Cornish (Aus) 17.75 def. Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 8.35
H8: Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 16.15 def. Megan Abubo (Haw) 15.25
2003 ASP Ratings After Billabong Pro Maui, WCT #5/5
1. Layne Beachley (Aus) 3,696-points
2. Keala Kennelly (Haw) 3,516
3. Heather Clark (SAfr) 3,240
4. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 3,060
5. Samantha Cornish (Aus) 2,664
6. Trudy Todd (Aus) 2,436
7. Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 2,424
8. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 2,220
9. Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 2,052
10. Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 2,028
,000
2nd Layne Beachley (Aus) 15.0 – US$6,000
Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$4,000)
SF1: Layne Beachley (Aus) 15.0 def. Heather Clark (SAfr) 14.6
SF2: Samantha Cornish (Aus) 14.0 def. Keala Kennelly (Haw) 13.95
Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$3,000)
QF1: Heather Clark (SAfr) 16.5 def. Pauline Menczer (Aus) 11.25
QF2: Layne Beachley (Aus) 14.1 def. Trudy Todd (Aus) 12.65
QF3: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 15.0 def. Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) 6.9
QF4: Samantha Cornish (Aus) 16.6 def. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 12.75
Round Three (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$2,500)
H1: Heather Clark (SAfr) 14.25 def. Marie Pierre Abgrall (Fra) 7.5
H2: Pauline Menczer (Aus) 11.65 def. Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 11.15
H3: Trudy Todd (Aus) 17.75 def. Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 16.15
H4: Layne Beachley (Aus) 14.75 def. Julia Christian (USA) 6.75
H5: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 9.25 def. Kate Skarratt (Aus) 8.75
H6: Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) 14.75 def. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 8.4
H7: Samantha Cornish (Aus) 17.75 def. Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 8.35
H8: Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 16.15 def. Megan Abubo (Haw) 15.25
2003 ASP Ratings After Billabong Pro Maui, WCT #5/5
1. Layne Beachley (Aus) 3,696-points
2. Keala Kennelly (Haw) 3,516
3. Heather Clark (SAfr) 3,240
4. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 3,060
5. Samantha Cornish (Aus) 2,664
6. Trudy Todd (Aus) 2,436
7. Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 2,424
8. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 2,220
9. Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 2,052
10. Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 2,028