Kennelly Defeats Clark To Win The Roxy Pro Final In Fiji

April 28, 2003 (Tavarua & Namotu Islands, Fiji) Hawaiian Keala Kennellytoday won the 2003 Roxy Pro. Boasting the richest prize purse in the historyof women’s surfing – US$70,800, the Association of Surfing Professionals(ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT) ran all the way from round three throughthe quarterfinals, semis and then climaxed with the grand finale.

Good 4-5 ft (1.5m) surf was on offer, though strong offshore winds persistedthroughout the day. Pods of dolphins and even a deadly sea snake greeted thelineup as competition unfolded, with both Tavarua and Namotu Island staffout to watch the world’s best women in action.

Kennelly, 24, lived up to her reputation as a fearless competitor inpowerful reef breaks. Against South Africa’s Heather Clark, the world #4entered her first final since winning in Tahiti last year and displayed thesame determination.

Despite a somewhat anti-climatic 30-minute decider, since both contestantswere out of position for many of the good waves, Kennelly made the most ofwhat she found to create a lasting lead. Although her trademark barrel ridesdidn’t feature, forehand snaps and a couple of floaters proved enough. Byclaiming victory the Kauaian moved into equal first position on the currentratings and received US$10,600 prizemoney.

“I’m so stoked,” began Kennelly. “It’s unfortunate the conditions got worseas soon as the final started, as when you win an event you hope it turns onand is an awesome final. Heather’s an incredible surfer and she’s beenripping all day. I can’t believe it (laughs).

“I was stoked it was an all goofy footer final,” she added, since the twoprevious winners have been regular footers. “I’m in a way better positionthan I was in this time last year. After being on tour for six years, I’mdefinitely thinking about the world title now.”

Clark, who also finished runner-up last year in the Roxy Pro, earned thehighest combined total of the day during her quarterfinal match with16.5-points. Against Kennelly in the final, however, the South Africanstruggled to find any good scores. The 31-year-old only required a rideworth 7.06-points, but as time elapsed, she ultimately sat waiting in vain.

“I was glad to be in a final with Keala,” began Clark. “Especially in a goodleft. It wasn’t great then, but I’m really stoked to have finished second.Last year I did the same, so you never want to do worse than the previousyear. I’m really happy and stoked for Keala too.

“Next week we’re in Tahiti and I just hope I don’t get her in the earlyrounds, as she loves the barrel,” she continued. “I was trying to get onethen, but was too deep and it just didn’t happen. I’m still happy with theresult.”

Equal third was WCT newcomer Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) and 2002 ASP ‘Rookie ofthe Year’ Chelsea Georgeson (Aus). Both 19-year-olds were standouts duringthe Roxy Pro, but had their runs stopped during the semifinals.

Mulanovich, 19, lost a close battle with Kennelly. The Peruvian, who placedfifth in the Roxy Pro last year as a wildcard, surfed brilliantly on herbackhand at Cloudbreak, landing late drops and executing major re-entriesand carving cutbacks. Despite holding the lead a number of times during thesemi, she ultimately lost priority toward the end needing a 6.16 and neverfound another good ride. Nonetheless, she secured her second consecutivesemifinal finish and is now fourth on the current ratings.

“I didn’t surf smart that heat,” reasoned a disappointed Mulanovich. “That’show things go, so you just have learn from it. I’m still stoked with acouple of semifinal finishes this year, as I know I’m getting points andstill have a chance. The waves have been fun and all my friends are here.Just being on Tavarua is great as it’s such a nice place.”

Georgeson, who equaled her best ever WCT result by reaching the semis,trailed the majority of her clash with Clark. The South African actuallyended her run last year in the third und of the Roxy Pro, and once againshe overcame the rising star with a commanding performance.

“I took the first wave in both sets and I think the second were better,”said Georgeson. “I felt a little bit wobbly on a couple and just didn’t getthe right ones. Heather is surfing really well. I’m stoked though. I gotfifth on the Gold Coast (first Roxy Pro this year in Australia) and wantedto better that, so I guess that happened and it’s all good.”

Finishing equal fifth today in the Roxy Pro were Lynette MacKenzie (Aus),Roxy Trials winner Caroline Sarran (Fra), world #2 Jacqueline Silva (Brz)and Trudy Todd (Aus).

Todd, who was beaten by Clark in the fourth quarterfinal, posted the bestsingle score of the tournament for a near-perfect 9.6-barrel ride againstMarie Pierre Abgrall the heat prior.

Sarran, who yesterday won the Roxy Trials to earn her wildcard spot in themain event, continued her dream run this morning by eliminating five-timeworld champion Layne Beachley (Aus). The 18-year-old displayed incredibleconfidence and has now gained valuable experience as she strives to qualifyfor the World Championship Tour.

“I was really happy when I heard I was going to be in the Trials,” beganSarran, of her experience in the Roxy Pro. “I won the Trials, which was fun.I was happy to be in the main event. The third round was the best part,surfing against Layne Beachley. It was a good experience and I beat her, soI think it’s good for my surfing and my career to make the quarterfinals inmy first WCT.”

Beachley was the day’s biggest upset, losing in round three to place equal9th. Despite beating Sarran in the non-elimination first round, her Frenchopponent gained revenge when it counted, with superior wave selection andgreat backhand surfing. The world champ showed her fighting spirit duringthe final minutes needing an 8.0 though, and even rode a wave onto dry reef,but achieved more cuts and abrasions to her feet than points from thejudges.

“I had a hell of a lot of bad luck out there today,” reasoned Beachley.”Caroline had great wave selection and surfed the waves really strongly. Shedeserved to win the heat.

“On my last wave my back foot slipped off and I ended up on dry reef,” sheexplained, of the blood all over her feet. “My leash got stuck around acoral head while I was still attached and I couldn’t get up, so I kept beingdragged along dry reef. Some days you win and some days you lose, but I’mnot going to beat myself up over it. It’s just a bad day. I had a good startto the year and I think I can maintain that.”

For more information and “behind the scene” information, check out Roxy’swebsite:

Official Results of the Roxy Pro Fiji
1st Keala Kennelly (Haw) 11.83 – US$10,600
2nd Heather Clark (SAfr) 6.1 – US$6,600

Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd finishes=3rd, receives US$4,600)
SF1: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 14.33 def. Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 14.0
SF2: Heather Clark (SAfr) 15.84 def. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 13.47

Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd finishes=5th, receives US$3,600)
QF1: Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 16.2 def. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 7.5
QF2: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 13.5 def. Caroline Sarran (Fra) 12.0
QF3: Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 16.0 def. Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 13.2
QF4: Heather Clark (SAfr) 16.5 def. Trudy Todd (Aus) 12.43

Round Three (1st>1/4; 2nd finishes=9th, receives US$3,100)
H1: Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 14.34 def. Megan Abubo (Haw) 10.5
H2: Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 16.33 def. Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 13.9
H3: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 13.17 def. Samantha Cornish (Aus) 9.9
H4: Caroline Sarran (Fra) 16.0 def. Layne Beachley (Aus) 12.5
H5: Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 14.43 def. Prue Jeffries (Aus) 11.1
H6: Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 13.83 def. Pauline Menczer (Aus) 13.1
H7: Heather Clark (Aus) 13.43 def. Melanie RedmanCarr (Aus) 12.06
H8: Trudy Todd (Aus) 15.1 def. Marie Pierre Abgrall (Fra) 10.73

Current Top 10 Ratings after Roxy Pro
=1. Layne Beachley (Aus); Keala Kennelly (Haw) – 1,560-points
3. Trudy Todd (Aus) – 1,524
4. Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) – 1,512
=5. Jacqueline Silva (Brz); Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) – 1,308
7. Heather Clark (SAfr) – 1,116
8. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) – 1,104
=9. Samantha Cornish (Aus); Pauline Menczer (Aus) – 912
(Fra) 10.73

Current Top 10 Ratings after Roxy Pro
=1. Layne Beachley (Aus); Keala Kennelly (Haw) – 1,560-points
3. Trudy Todd (Aus) – 1,524
4. Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) – 1,512
=5. Jacqueline Silva (Brz); Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) – 1,308
7. Heather Clark (SAfr) – 1,116
8. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) – 1,104
=9. Samantha Cornish (Aus); Pauline Menczer (Aus) – 912