Kennelly Defeats Ballard In All-Kauaian Final

Kennelly Defeats Ballard In All-Kauaian Final

May 10, 2003 (Teahupoo, Tahiti) Hawaiian Keala Kennelly today defeatedfellow Kauaian Rochelle Ballard to win the 2003 Billabong Pro Teahupoo. Thewomen’s World Championship Tournament (WCT) resumed in great conditions thismorning, running through quarterfinals and semis, before climaxing with thecrowning of this year’s champion.

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Clean 4-5 ft (1.5m) surf was on offer at Teahupoo this morning. Unfavorablesouth winds did increase during the fourth quarterfinal, so competition wasplaced on hold for one hour. As the wind subsided and the sun emerged fromthe clouds, boatloads of spectators filled the channel to cheer on thefinalists.

Kennelly, the undisputed Queen of Teahupoo, today clinched an amazing fourthevent title at the life-threatening venue. Having won the first WorldQualifying Series (WQS) tournament staged at the shallow reef break in 1998,the 24-year-old has continued to dominate each year, and now holds astunning record of four victories from six starts. Significant, too, is thefact she finally claimed consecutive crowns, after all previous three hadoccurred on alternating years.

Against close friend Ballard in the 35-minute decider, Kennelly remained theclear favorite. Unfortunately the ocean failed to produce the goods, andboth barrel riding maestros sat for the majority waiting for bigger setwaves that never came. After a couple of low scores the goofy footer held aslender lead, then towards the end locked in the final’s best single scoreof 6.0 with a small tube and committed re-entry over the exposed insidereef. Having earlier posted nine plus scores in each heat, as well as thisyear’s only perfect 10-point ride in third round, she wanted more of thesame but achieved the goal nonetheless – pocketing US$10,000 and creating astrong ratings lead after her second consecutive win in as many weeks.

“What a shame it was an anti-climatic final,” began Kennelly afterward. “Itjust stopped (breaking) and was a real nail-biter. We were waiting for thebombs and the ocean didn’t co-operate. Going up against Rochelle – she’s oneof my heroes and inspires me. I wish it could have been more of a barrelcontest, but she surfed insane all the way through the entire event, so Iwas stoked to come up against her in the final.

“I got a little barrel and then did a big re-entry right on the dry coral,”she continued, of her best wave. “I was just trying to get any points ’causewe spent 20-minutes just waiting for the bombs that never came. I don’t knowwhat happened out there? She’s a really good friend and when she loses Ifeel bad, but this is the contest I want to win the most all year long. I’ddie trying to win it, you know?

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“It’s good to have won in Fiji,” she added, of the previous event. “I’lljust try and do my best through Europe next and see what happens in thosepineapple fields (on Maui for the last WCT of the season). The world titlegets decided there and it’d be stupid to get excited now. Layne’s had a goodrun and is holding the record, so I’m going to try my best to win a worldtitle. It’s always been my goal, but I’m sure she’ll be right there at theend trying to make it six like Kelly (Slater). Good on her.”

‘Barrels Ballard’, as the 32-year-old is respectively known, was unlucky notto have had a better opportunity in the final. After landing on the insidereef and cutting up her back during the quarterfinals, she displayed plentyof determination just by reaching the tournament’s pinnacle. Towards the endshe was well within striking distance, but ultimately lacked any highscoring rides and like the 2001 final, was forced to settle with runner-upposition.

“Every since we started coming here we’ve wanted to have each other in thefinal,” explained Ballard afterward. “I respect her so much and I’veactually watched her grow up more than I’ve grown up with her. She’s anamazing surfer and has so much potential and a bigeart. Every time she’sout there she’s practically getting 10’s, so I figured I had to try and getat least two 9’s in the final in order to beat her. I think that’s where Iwent wrong. We both had really high expectations and were letting the littleones go by on the inside. Towards the end it was a scramble, and even when Ionly needed a small score, I figured I better wait for a big one.

“Disappointing for both of us since we were really excited about matching upbarrel for barrel,” she continued. “I’m just really stoked I made the final.I respect her tremendously and regardless of the outcome or the waves at theend, she deserves it. If there was anyone to beat me, it was Keala.”

Equal third today were West Australian Melanie RedmanCarr and South AfricanHeather Clark. Both lost in the semifinals after strong performances in the2003 tournament.

RedmanCarr was stopped by Ballard, after the diminutive surfer found someclean tubes and posted a convincing win. The West Australian suffered anincident when the Jet Ski towing her back out became stuck on dry reef for anumber of minutes, but she later stated a wave hitting her in the headproved more problematic.

“I think it all started to go badly when that lip hit me in the head,”laughed RedmanCarr. “I just stood up straight, not thinking the wave wasstill pitching, but it landed on the side of my head and gave me a bit ofshock. That wave had a bit of potential, but I fell off. I’m just glad Imade it this far. Rochelle was a deserving winner. It’s a pity I didn’t makethe final, but maybe next year.”

Clark, meanwhile, lost a very one-sided semifinal to Kennelly. The Kauaianopened her account with the day’s best single score of 9.6, and then backedit up with another 8.4 to collect the highest combined tally of the day. Inwhat proved a repeat of their final showdown in Fiji, the South Africanagain failed to gain the upper hand. Still, her consistent high placingshave her third on the current ratings.

“I’m really, really bummed,” admitted Clark afterwards. “There were suchgood waves out there and Keala got them right from the beginning. She’s beensurfing unreal since the start of the event and really deserves to win thiscontest. Definitely deserved to win the semi (laughs). I just couldn’t getany, and when I paddled I’d lose priority and then Keala would get anothergood wave. I’m just going to have to try harder in the rest of the conteststhis year.”

Finishing equal fifth in the Billabong Pro Teahupoo women’s WCT wereFrance’s newcomer Marie Pierre Abgrall, five-time world champion LayneBeachley, 2002 ASP ‘Rookie of the Year’ Chelsea Georgeson and fellowAustralian and 1999 event winner Kate Skarratt.

Beachley won this event in 2001 and placed runner-up to Kennelly last year,but was stopped by RedmanCarr in the quarterfinals this morning. The30-year-old posted the best single score of 8.13-points during the clash,yet required another worth 7.47 during the final 10-minutes following theWest Australians series of backhand re-entries. Having won the first eventon this year’s season, Beachley is still in second position on the currentratings as she strives to achieve an unprecedented six-consecutive surfingworld title.

“Bad rhythm, bad luck and bad wave selection,” reasoned Beachley afterward.”Even though Mel took off on a couple on the inside and posted some goodscores, I was waiting for a big set and of course nothing came. The one waveI did have an opportunity to get a score, I never really got deep enough inthe barrel, so it’s a very disappointing result. I was feeling reallyconfident. I have the ability to make the final and win this event, but ifyou don’t get the waves there’s nothing you can do and Mel was in rhythmwith priority and the ocean.

“The idea’s just to stay in contention,” she added of the title race. “I’mdisappointed with my last two results – a 9th and 5th – as I feel I’ve beenout of rhythm and out of luck the past couple of events. Hopefully the longbreak now will regenerate my luck and I’ll come back stronger in Portugal inSeptember.”

Georgeson, who distinguished herself as a major contender at Teahupoofollowing her performances, faced the ultimate challenge against Kennelly.Despite holding the lead after a great 9-point ride this morning, herKauaian opponent answered back with a long tube and 9.5 score to ultimatelyprogress. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old gained plenty of confidence at thenotorious break.

“It was always going to be a hard,” reasoned Georgeson. “KK rips out thereand is always getting barreled, but it was a fun heat. Last year I didn’treally know what I was doing out here and this year it’s been great to getused to the wave and actually get some barrels. It definitely doesn’t scareme as much anymore, but it’s still a gnarly wave (laughs). I probably hadsome of the best waves of my life, and I didn’t get too cut up either, soI’m happy with that.”

Internet users will be able to watch all the surfing action live from theBillabong Pro Teahupoo. Both the men and women’ WCT tournaments will befilmed from the all-important boat angle situated in the channel lookingdirectly into the barrel. A stabilizing camera lens and a microwave systemwill create a spectacular webcasting experience from one of the world’ mostremote surfing locations. Simply log onto http://www.BillabongPro.com andenjoy the show.

Official Billabong Pro Teahupoo Women’s Final
1st Keala Kennelly (Haw) 9.83 – US$10,000
2nd Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 7.84 – US$6,000
Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd, receives US$4,000)
SF1: Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 12.73 def. Melanie RedmanCarr (Aus) 6.83
SF2: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 18.0 def. Heather Clark (SAfr) 5.66

Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th, receives US$3,000)
QF1: Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 10.26 def. Marie Pierre Abgrall (Fra) 5.23
QF2: Melanie RedmanCarr (Aus) 15.6 def. Layne Beachley (Aus) 14.3
QF3: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 17.67 def. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 14.83
QF: Heather Clark (SAfr) 11.5 def. Kate Skarratt (Aus) 8.57

Current Ratings after Billabong Pro Teahupoo WCT#3
1. Keala Kennelly (Haw) 2,760
2. Layne Beachley (Aus) 2,112
3. Heather Clark (SAfr) 2,088
4. Trudy Todd (Aus) 1,884
5. Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 1,872
6. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 1,860
7. Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 1,692
8. Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 1,668
9. Melanie RedmanCarr (Aus) 1,476
10. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 1,464
events. Hopefully the longbreak now will regenerate my luck and I’ll come back stronger in Portugal inSeptember.”

Georgeson, who distinguished herself as a major contender at Teahupoofollowing her performances, faced the ultimate challenge against Kennelly.Despite holding the lead after a great 9-point ride this morning, herKauaian opponent answered back with a long tube and 9.5 score to ultimatelyprogress. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old gained plenty of confidence at thenotorious break.

“It was always going to be a hard,” reasoned Georgeson. “KK rips out thereand is always getting barreled, but it was a fun heat. Last year I didn’treally know what I was doing out here and this year it’s been great to getused to the wave and actually get some barrels. It definitely doesn’t scareme as much anymore, but it’s still a gnarly wave (laughs). I probably hadsome of the best waves of my life, and I didn’t get too cut up either, soI’m happy with that.”

Internet users will be able to watch all the surfing action live from theBillabong Pro Teahupoo. Both the men and women’ WCT tournaments will befilmed from the all-important boat angle situated in the channel lookingdirectly into the barrel. A stabilizing camera lens and a microwave systemwill create a spectacular webcasting experience from one of the world’ mostremote surfing locations. Simply log onto http://www.BillabongPro.com andenjoy the show.

Official Billabong Pro Teahupoo Women’s Final
1st Keala Kennelly (Haw) 9.83 – US$10,000
2nd Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 7.84 – US$6,000
Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd, receives US$4,000)
SF1: Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 12.73 def. Melanie RedmanCarr (Aus) 6.83
SF2: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 18.0 def. Heather Clark (SAfr) 5.66

Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th, receives US$3,000)
QF1: Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 10.26 def. Marie Pierre Abgrall (Fra) 5.23
QF2: Melanie RedmanCarr (Aus) 15.6 def. Layne Beachley (Aus) 14.3
QF3: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 17.67 def. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 14.83
QF: Heather Clark (SAfr) 11.5 def. Kate Skarratt (Aus) 8.57

Current Ratings after Billabong Pro Teahupoo WCT#3
1. Keala Kennelly (Haw) 2,760
2. Layne Beachley (Aus) 2,112
3. Heather Clark (SAfr) 2,088
4. Trudy Todd (Aus) 1,884
5. Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 1,872
6. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 1,860
7. Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 1,692
8. Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 1,668
9. Melanie RedmanCarr (Aus) 1,476
10. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 1,464