Easter Saturday, March 26th, 2005
The apple of Perus eye, reigning ASP Womens
World Champion Sofia Mulanovich, has bounced straight back
from a humiliating season opener to claim victory in the SPC
Fruit Pro in clean 2-3 waves at Bells today.
Flexing her trademark power at breakneck speed,
Mulanovich convincingly defeated Australian veteran Serena
Brooke, to return to her championship form and ring the revered
Brooke started strongly in the 35 minute final,
but the Peruvian soon matched the Australians opener
and then improved her aggregate score further on her following
Mulanovich dominated thereafter, choosing waves
with better wall and length, eventually notching back-to-back
scores of 7.83 and then 8.0 to put Brooke in a combination
situation needing two waves to catch up. Her speed and agility
in fitting as many manoeuvres as possible into the often sectioning
waves was also a factor.
In contrast to her performance in earlier rounds,
Brooke failed to link with the sets and came unstuck in critical
situations several times. Her highest score was her second
last wave, the longest of her seven rides, a 6.83 for a blend
of cutbacks, snaps, and a floater. That reduced the margin
from more than 15 to nine points.
A final chance for Brooke to catch-up came unexpectedly
when Mulanovich strangely abandoned her priority to catch
a low scoring wave with three minutes remaining, thereby leaving
Brooke in control. Two good-looking sets loomed in the remaining
time, but luckily for Mulanovich, the waves failed to offer
high scoring potential. The SPC action began just after 8am
this morning with the quarterfinals being moved from Bells
to Winkipop where it was considered the small but clean swell
would be better on the low to incoming tide.
The first result of the day was a major upset
with six-times world champion Layne Beachley being trounced
by Hawaiis 2000 Bells winner Megan Abubo who picked
the eyes out of the glassy conditions. Three times Bells winner
Beachley was attempting to match the record four victories
of Floridas Lisa Andersen, but that quest ended in a
horror heat for the Australian great.
Layne didnt get many good ones and
kept falling too, verified Abubo. It took me a
few minutes to get a first wave, which was a 7.0, and then
I got an 8.0 for a wide one when I was paddling back out.
You may as well have anchored me to the
bottom and used me as a priority buoy! exclaimed a distraught
Beachley after her loss.
I sat in the wrong place, caught the wrong
waves, and had my leash wrapped around both my feet every
time I stood up. It was so frustrating
stammered Beachley, fighting back the tears.
Layne has won the title six times, and
everyone else is obviously pretty hungry to win a title right
now, continued Abubo.
Its not a personal thing, but everyone
is always going to go after the person doing the best because
you want to knock them down. Ive been competing with
Layne for a long time, and its always a really healthy
rivalry out in the water.
While Abubo talked, Mulanovich was out in the
water quickly pulling off three quick and critical moves on
a clean Winkipop wall to earn a 9.33 for the second wave in
her quarterfinal with Western Australias Melanie Redman-Carr.
As Abubo continued with her overview, Mulanovich added a high
six to her tally to move on, with Redman-Carr needing 9.07.
Sofia is ripping. It was just a bit of
a wildcard jinx. I think a lot of Sofias problems are
mainly in her head. Just mental! When you can put it together
in your head you can put it together in the water especially
with her talent, said Abubo.
The newly crowned Mulanovich, who last year
broke Layne Beachleys hold on the world title, had not
started this season well, losing twice to trials winner and
Rip Curl team rider Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in the first WCT
of the year earlier this month.
Finishing third in her first round heat in Queensland
behind Gilmore and Redman-Carr, the world champion struggled
through the second round elimination heat, only to face and
again lose to Gilmore, who went on to win the event.
After that first event on the Gold Coast Mulanovich
flew almost immediately to Victoria to train with 1989 World
Champion Martin Potter, who coached her and acclimatised the
young South American to the waves at and around Bells. She
also received two new boards from her shaper Al Merrick, riding
a 58 rounded square with heaps of bottom concave
in this event.
Mulanovich was hugely relieved yesterday to
defeat SPC Trials wildcard Jessi Miley-Dyer in round three
and move into todays quarters, breaking the perceived
I feel much better now, my boards are
working good, and Ive found that winning feeling again,
said a smiling Mulanovich after moving into the semi-finals
Returning to WCT ranks this season after two
years of being sidelined with a broken wrist, and then an
eye injury, Serena Brooke began her run for the final today
with a solid victory over Gold Coast veteran Trudy Todd, who
announced after their quarterfinal that she would be retiring
at the end of this season.
Trudy can be really tactical and I followed
her around at first, but then she sat a long way up the reef,
so I sat wider, and that worked for me said Brooke after
In the fourth quarter, Perth rookie Claire Bevilacqua
left the sole remaining goofy-footer in the draw Keala Kennelly
(HAW) in need of a nine, and moved on to the second semi-final.
I find Winkipop is a good fun and kind
of easy wave to ride, so Im having fun and super stoked
to go in against Serena Brooke, who is a good friend of mine.
I gained a lot of confidence beating Chelsea Georgeson yesterday
and feel good, said Bevilacqua.
Serena Brooke was unstoppable in the second
semi-final with Bevilacqua, the rookie literally left sitting
while Brooke picked up multiple long rides, often on the paddle
back out, and rode them taking it square to the lip and carving
with full rail.
The first semi-final between Mulanovich and
Abubo was a tighter affair. After falling on her first ride,
the Peruvian again got up into top shelf scores with a 9.17
for her second wave. Undeterred and surfing solidly, Megan
came back with a 7.83, and then a 6.00 at the halfway mark,
and took the lead, Mulanovich needing 4.66.
The pair then had a crucial exchange, Abubo
slotting in a 7.10 for a long and well-worked wave, but Mulanovich
came through with a shorter but more dynamic run on the next
wave for 6.50 to reclaim the lead, and leave the Hawaiian
in need of 7.85. That remained the final situation, though
with her third placing, Abubo retains the current world ratings
Back in the swing of things and bristling with
confidence, Mulanovich went on with it in the final and landed
back in the winners circle, finally off on the right
foot towards defending her world title. She now sits in second
place on the rankings. Its the first time I compete
here, and its been really well-organised. I love Bells
the people, the place, the wave. It reminds me of home, so
its good! said an excited Mulanovich on the beach
after her win.
It has been my dream to win the Bell.
I could hear the sound in my head before the final. I also
felt really close to God and He sent me good waves, so Im
stoked! It is also the first time I have won on my forehand,
which will also boost my confidence a lot. Im so happy!
Sofia Mulanovich has a hand-scrawled message
on the deck of her surfboard. It says: Never doubt!
Just do it for you and your country! She passed that
on after her victory.
Any time you want something, just
go for it, and be confident about what you are doing,
was Sofias final celebratory message to the world via
The next call for the Rip Curl Pro will be in
the Bells carpark at 6am tomorrow morning. There is a possibility,
the event may move two hours west to Johanna.
by Paul Sargeant
(1st>SFinals; 2nd=5th place, USD$3500/552pts)
Q1: Megan Abubo (HAW) 15.17 def. Layne Beachley
Q2: Sofia Mulanovich (PER 16.16 def. Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS)
Q3: Serena Brooke (AUS) 12.20 def. Trudy Todd (AUS) 10.50
Q4: Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 15.23 def. Keala Kennelly (HAW)
(1st>Final; 2nd=3rd place, USD$4250.00/756pts)
S1: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 15.67 def. Megan
Abubo (HAW) 14.93
S2: Serena Brooke (AUS) 15.94 def. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)
(1st=winner USD$10,000/1200pts; 2nd=runner-up USD$6000/972pts)
1st Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 15.83 def. Serena
Brooke (AUS) 11.83