Australian Neridah Falconer wins her first Roxy Pro
Friday, November 22, 2002 – (Honolulu, Hawaii) – Australian Neridah Falconer broke a twelve-month victory drought to claim first place in the eighth annual Roxy Pro at Haleiwa today, defeating reigning world champion Layne Beachley (Australia), Sam Cornish (Australia), and defending Roxy Pro champion Jacqueline Silva (Brazil). At 30 years of age, Falconer has been coming to Hawaii for the past 14 years. She has been successful in posting wins in Maui during the Vans Triple Crown Series of 2000 and 2001, but she has never been successful at Haleiwa, and she is yet to win a Vans Triple Crown Series title.
Conditions for the final day of competition were highly praised by the competitors with Haleiwa offering consistent waves with four- to eight-foot faces over the four rounds held today. The morning’s glassy smooth wave faces delivered the highest scoring potential of the day, and no wave was wasted. The crowd on shore was treated to the highest level of women’s professional surfing as many near-perfect wave scores were registered.
In the final, the size of the waves kicked in but inconsistency contributed to very few backup rides for those who didn’t find their way into the choice sets. That was reflected in the scores; Falconer caught the two biggest waves of the 30-minute final while her opponents fought it out in her wake. Falconer finished with a total of 11.67 points out of 20 (based on her best two rides), Beachley finished on 10.57, Cornish scored 6.76 and Silva struggled to find anything, catching just one wave for a tiny two-point total.
“This is a real high point for me and professionally I haven’t had any for a while,” said Falconer. “I was consistent today. I don’t think I was surfing at my best, but I persevered with what I had and it paid off. I didn’t find myself surfing any real in-form heats like Jacqeline and Layne, but I was steady and that’s what you needed to be in the final. It was kind of a strange way for me to win¿I’m used to winning with really good form, but today it was consistency that paid off.
“The standard of women’s surfing has taken another step up. Across the board everyone has stepped up to the mark and finally there are some good young girls coming up too. A lot of us have been here for a long time and we really need the younger girls pushing us, they’re the future of our sport.”
While savoring today’s victory, Falconer’s eyes are on defending her title on Maui and hopefully claiming a Triple Crown title.
“After this I’m leading the Vans Triple Crown series ratings. This is where I was two years ago when I won the first event which was then on Maui. I led the ratings all the way to the final event that year, but I ended up losing out. I was pretty devastated at the time, so hopefully this year I can set it straight.”
For Beachley, a 4-time winner of this event, the final was somewhat of a letdown after surfing flawlessly through the morning heats. But her second-place finish still keeps her within striking distance of the Triple Crown title¿an award she won in 1998 and 1999. She is using the lure of a third Triple Crown title to keep the pressure of a fifth world title out of her mind.
“It started out fantastic today. The conditions were excellent and the girls were absolutely ripping,” said Beachley. “To hear scores of 9 and 8 consistently throughout the heats is really incredible. I think everyone put on a mighty fine performance.
“As for me, I think I’m gaining momentum. I haven’t competed since the European leg in September and before that was a four-month hiatus, so competitively it’s been a super inconsistent year for me. But I think I gained momentum throughout each heat here and I hope to do it again next week at the Turtle Bay Resort Pro.
“As far as the Triple Crown is concerned, that’s my primary focus and I’m ussing it to eliminate the pressure and expectation on me in relation to the world title. I’m not feeling the pressure now, but I’m sure I will when I get to Maui. As long as I have a good showing at Turtle Bay, I’ll be performing more for the Triple Crown in Maui than the world title. Not that I need much motivation. I like to win too much.
“When it comes to the world title, I still feel like there’s a lot of work to be done even though most of the pressure is on the girls behind me. But the goal is really five world titles, which would mean beating Lisa Andersen’s record. It was the goal I set when I won my first world title in 1998, and I don’t think anyone thought that I would get there, so its quite an exciting position to be in.”
Defending Roxy Pro champion Jacqueline Silva’s final performance perhaps overshadowed her semi-final heat that saw her post the highest score of the contest – 18.47 points out of 20 with wave scores of 9.4 and 9.07. Her speed and power was most impressive and she has shown that her form is as good as anybody’s and she shouldn’t be counted out in the remaining two events of the Vans Triple Crown series.
The $10,000 Davidoff Cool Water Xpression Session was also finalized today with an all-star men’s lineup that included defending Vans Triple Crown champion Myles Padaca (Hawaii), Pancho Sullivan (Hawaii), Mick Fanning (Australia), Flavio Padaratz (Brazil), Miki Picon (France) and Jamie O’Brien (Hawaii). Awards were made for the most powerful, most progressive, best aerial and most futuristic maneuvers. O’Brien cleaned up the opposition by taking out two of the categories for a $5,000 prize. He executed the best aerial – a backhand air reverse, and the most futuristic move – a forehand lip-slide to reverse. Sullivan was clearly the most powerful surfer in the lineup, taking out that division with a slamming forehand carve, and Fanning’s forehand sliding gouge won the award for the most progressive move.
“This is where we all get the chance to push the limits of surfing,” said O’Brien. “Just looking for one big move in a 20 minute heat. These are the kind of moves we’re always pushing for in competition, so it’s cool to get the chance to just go off.”
The next stop for the women is the Turtle Bay Resort Women’s Pro with a holding period of November 24 to December 7. The event will run in the same window as the second stop on the men’s series – the Rip Curl Cup at Sunset Beach. Swell forecasts look good for a Sunday start.