Fifth Annual Roxy Pro Fiji Fast Approaching

Roxy Pro Fiji (April 17-22) Live on www.roxy.com & www.aspworldtour.com

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 2005 Women’s World Championship Tour (WCT)

Fifth Annual Roxy Pro Fiji Fast Approaching

Friday, April 8, 2005 (ASP Int’l, QLD, Australia) The fifth annual Roxy Pro Fiji, stop number three on the Women’s Championship Tour, will return to the pristine Fijian setting of Tavarua and Namotu islands April 17-22, 2005. The Roxy Pro offers the largest prize purse in women’s professional surfing – US$75,800, to be shared amongst the world’s Top 18 ranked female professional surfers, with US$10,600 to the winner.

The third of nine elite level World Championship Tour (WCT) events in 2005, the Roxy Pro is also the second in a series of four WCT events to be presented exclusively by Roxy this year – all of which will play a critical role in deciding the 2005 women’s world surfing champion.

After two events so far this season, Roxy team riders Megan Abubo (Hawaii) and reigning world champion Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) sit first and second respectively on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) WCT rankings. Abubo holds down a narrow lead of 168 points over Mulanovich – a difference that can be bridged in just one heat of competition.

At 27 years of age, Abubo’s ties to the Roxy Pro in Fiji go back to its inaugural year of 2001 when she won the event. A permanent fixture of the world’s Top 10-ranked women surfers, Abubo has returned this season with the same polished, faultless form that saw her challenge for the world title in 2000, eventually finishing runner-up to the crown.

“Fiji is a very special place and it reminds me so much of home,” Abubo said. “I feel confident surfing in the Roxy Pro because I have a title there.

“I feel very strong physically and mentally at the moment. I spent most of 2004 with a sports psychologist and it has helped to prepare me for everything that competition is throwing at me right now. I’m very hungry and I have a burning fire inside that is almost unexplainable. The way I look at it, this is the first time in a very long time that I want it. I’m taking it one heat at a time and trying to win as many heats as I can.”

Like Abubo, 21-year-old Sofia Mulanovich holds a special regard for the Roxy Pro in Fiji. In 2002, she was offered a start in the trials of this event and blazed her way through to the quarter finals. Just two years later, in April of 2004, Sofia scored her maiden WCT victory in Fiji at the Roxy Pro – a result that started her on a string of victories and finals that culminated in her winning the world title at the final Roxy Pro event in Hawaii last November.

“I love Fiji and it has always been a great contest for me,” Mulanovich said. “Last year was so special for me – to win. I really believe it gave me the confidence to go on and win the world title. I’m excited to go back again.”

Mulanovich said she was feeling great after her recent WCT win at Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia. “It was an important win for me because I had a slow start in the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast the contest before. Before Bells I hadn’t won a contest being the world champion, but after a win I feel confident. The pressure of being world champion is definitely more, but it’s just a different approach now. Being world champion, you should just be confident. You’ve proved you can do it, so you just need to be happy and enjoy yourself.”

All surfers understand the value of a strong first half of the season and for this reason, the Roxy Pro in Fiji will have a major bearing on this year’s world title race, particularly for Abubo (1728 ratings points) and Mulanovich (1560 points). Hot on their heels are four Australians who are eager to make their world title push: Serena Brooke (ranked third, 1332 points), six-time world champion Layne Beachley (fourth, 1308 points), Roxy team rider Chelssea Georgeson and Claire Bevilacqua (equal fifth, 1116 points) .

Not to be overlooked are the four international trialists invited to compete for a spot in the main event. They are South African Rosanne Hodge, French surfing champion Caroline Sarran, and Australians Carly Smith and Stephanie Gilmore. While unrated at the WCT level, any one of these women could play spoiler to the aspirations of the established pros in the main event. Seventeen-year-old schoolgirl Gilmore proved that in March when she rose through the trials of the Roxy Pro in Australia and went on to win the event over the entire WCT field.

The Roxy Pro in Fiji will be staged over the best days of waves during April 17 to 22. The preferred venue for the event is Cloudbreak, a long, mid-ocean reefbreak that barrels off across a shallow, submerged reef for a total distance of approximately 200 metres. Depending upon conditions, the event can relocate to a number of excellent surf spots that are readily accessible by boat between the islands of Namotu and Tavarua. All the action will be live on roxy.com

The Roxy Pro set a new standard in women’s professional surfing five years ago when it appeared as the first stand-alone women’s World Championship Tour (WCT) event, meaning that it was not held in conjunction with a men’s WCT competition. Capitalizing on premier waves and a pristine setting, the Roxy Pro is more than just a surfing competition. Sponsors, officials and surfers share a week together in a private paradise of waves, ocean sports, photo shoots, and secluded island living.

FACTS AT A GLANCE:

The event – The Roxy Pro in Fiji is the richest event in women’s professional surfing, offering a purse of US$75,800. It is the third of nine women’s World Championship Tour (WCT) events for 2005, and the second of four WCT events presented exclusively by Roxy this year.

The athletes – Featuring the top 18-ranked female pro surfers, along with four international trialists.

The holding period – A traditional opening Kava ceremony will take place Saturday day, April 16 , followed by a six-day holding period, with competition taking place on the best days of surf.

The venue – Set on two remote Fijian islands, surfing takes place primarily at Cloudbreak, an ocean break to the south of the islands, but can relocate to a number of high-performance breaks on the surrounding reefs of these islands.

Defending champion – Sofia Mulanovich (Peru), reigning world champion and current world No.2.

Past champions – Megan Abubo (Hawaii), 2001; Melanie Redman-Carr (Australia), 2002; Keala Kennelly (Hawaii), 2003.