HO'OKIPA BEACH PARK, Hawaii (Thursday, December 18, 2008) – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 20, newly-crowned two-time ASP Women's World Champion, defeated Melanie Bartels (HAW), 26, to claim the her second consecutive Billabong Pro Maui in clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves on offer at Ho'okipa Beach Park, earning the young Australian her first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (an ASP Specialty Series) Title.
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 ped and the conditions got really fun," 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."
With a bevy of young guns joining the ASP Women's World Tour in 2009, Bartels will look to continue her momentum in the off-season in preparation for an ASP Women's World Title campaign next season.
"I'm going to train my butt off in the off-season," Bartels said. "The girls coming on tour surf amazing and I know that I need to be at my best if I want to make a dent. I beat Steph earlier this season in really good waves in Brazil and then finished second to her today so that's given me the confidence to believe in my ability. The next step is to ensure that I am putting 100% into the entire year."
Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, former seven-time ASP Women's World Champion, has announced that 2008 will be her final season as a full-time ASP Dream Tour competitor. Despite a solid Quarterfinal win over Rosanne Hodge (ZAF), 21, Beachley was unable to overcome eventual winner Gilmore in their hard-fought Semifinal bout, going down 15.07 to Gilmore's 16.80.
"I think it was a great way to go out," Beachley said. "We all have to lose sometime and to go down to Steph (Gilmore), who I consider my protégé and the one I am passing the torch to, is probably the most fitting way."
Beachley's illustrious career has spanned 19 years and the renowned natural-footer has collected an unprecedented seven ASP Women's World Titles. While the Billabong Pro Maui marks Beachley's final event as a full-time ASP Women's World Tour competitor, the legendary Australian is confident in the new crop of surfers and may be back in 2009 surfing in events.
"It's difficult reflecting on something like this (retirement)," Beachley said. "Of course I would have liked to go out with a win and on-top, but I also feel like this past season and these past events haven't defined my career. I've won seven ASP Women's World Titles and have had an incredible journey of a career so I suppose the most rewarding part of this is that I'm leaving professional women's surfing in the hands of such capable and exciting young surfers. While it's my last year as a full time competitor, I'm planning on competing in a couple of events next season."
Silvana Lima (BRA), 24, went down in the Semifinals to Bartels, but her solid equal 3rd place finish at the Billabong Pro Maui saw the young Brazilian finish a career-best No. 2 on the ASP Women's World Tour.
"I'm happy because I had a good year," Lima said. "I started slow but had lots of good results at the end. Lots of 2nds, but to finish No. 2 in the world, I am very happy. I am going to go home and relax with my family and friends over the holidays and then start training in the gym before we start in Australia next year."
Highlights from Billabong Pro Maui will be available via billabongpro.com
Vans Triple Crown of Surfing information will be available via triplecrownofsurfing.com
While the 2008 ASP Women's World Tour has come to a close, the best surfers in the world will be back next year for the 2009 installment of the ASP Dream Tour.
Returning surfers to the 2009 ASP Women's World Tour will be reigning and two-time ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 20, Silvana Lima (BRA), 24, Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 25, Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, Amee Donohoe (AUS), 28, Samantha Cornish (AUS), 28, Melanie Bartels (HAW), 26, Rebecca Woods (AUS), 24, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), 22, Jacqueline Silva (BRA), 29, and Rosanne Hodge (ZAF), 21 (via the ASP World Qualifying Series).
New faces to next year's ASP Women's World Tour will be Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18, Bruna Schmitz (BRA), 18, Paige Hareb (NZL), 18, Alana Blanchard (HAW), 18, and Coco Ho (HAW), 17.
For more information, log onto aspworldtour.com.
BILLABONG PRO MAUI FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 17.60
2 – Melanie Bartels (HAW) 14.80
BILLABONG PRO MAUI SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.80 def. Layne Beachley (AUS) 15.07
SF 2: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 13.07 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.07
BILLABONG PRO MAUI QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Layne Beachley (AUS) 11.07 def. Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 9.67
QF 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.33 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 11.87
QF 3: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 14.66 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.33
QF 4: Silvana Lima (BRA) 13.13 def. Megan Abubo (HAW) 10.23
2008 ASP WOMEN'S WORLD TOUR FINAL RATINGS:
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 7188 points
2 – Silvana Lima (BRA) 5534 points
3 – Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 5323 points
4 – Layne Beachley (AUS) 5210 points
5 – Amee Donohoe (AUS) 4051 points
6 – Samantha Cornish (AUS) 3972 points
7 – Melanie Bartels (HAW) 3876 points
8 – Rebecca Woods (AUS) 3602 points
9 – Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS) 3564 points
10 – Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 3398 points
11 – Megan Abubo (HAW) 2988 points
12 – Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 2784 points
13 – Nicola Atherton (AUS) 2670 points
14 – Julia De La Rosa Toro (PER) 2654 points
15 – Karina Petroni (USA) 2604 points
16 – Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) 2232 points
17 – Serena Brooke (AUS) 2094 points
2008 VANS TRIPLE CROWN OF SURFING FINAL RATINGS:
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) $10,000
2 – Layne Beachley (AUS)
3 – Melanie Bartels (HAW)