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March 2005  

Mulanovich Bounces Back to Win the SPC Fruit Pro
Easter Saturday, March 26th, 2005

The apple of Peru’s eye, reigning ASP Women’s 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 Bells trophy.

Brooke started strongly in the 35 minute final, but the Peruvian soon matched the Australian’s opener and then improved her aggregate score further on her following ride.

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 Hawaii’s 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 Florida’s Lisa Andersen, but that quest ended in a horror heat for the Australian great.

“Layne didn’t 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…I’m devastated!” 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.

“It’s not a personal thing, but everyone is always going to go after the person doing the best because you want to knock them down. I’ve been competing with Layne for a long time, and it’s 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 Australia’s 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 Sofia’s 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 Beachley’s 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 5’8” 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 today’s quarters, breaking the perceived wildcard hoodoo.

“I feel much better now, my boards are working good, and I’ve found that winning feeling again,” said a smiling Mulanovich after moving into the semi-finals this morning.

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 defeating Todd.

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 I’m 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 lead.

Back in the swing of things and bristling with confidence, Mulanovich went on with it in the final and landed back in the winner’s circle, finally off on the right foot towards defending her world title. She now sits in second place on the rankings. “It’s the first time I compete here, and it’s been really well-organised. I love Bells… the people, the place, the wave. It reminds me of home, so it’s 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 I’m stoked! It is also the first time I have won on my forehand, which will also boost my confidence a lot. I’m so happy!” added Mulanovich.

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 Sofia’s 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 (AUS) 9.67
Q2: Sofia Mulanovich (PER 16.16 def. Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) 13.10
Q3: Serena Brooke (AUS) 12.20 def. Trudy Todd (AUS) 10.50
Q4: Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 15.23 def. Keala Kennelly (HAW) 12.90

(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) 6.60

(1st=winner USD$10,000/1200pts; 2nd=runner-up USD$6000/972pts)

1st Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 15.83 def. Serena Brooke (AUS) 11.83

SPC Fruit Pro 2005 photo galleries

ASP world champ Sofia Mulanovich may be small, but she packs a powerful punch in the water.

Reigning ASP world champ Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) finally got to ring the prestige's Bell when she clinched the SPC Fruit Pro at Bells Beach.

Returning to WCT ranks this season after two years of being sidelined with a broken wrist, and then an eye injury, Serena Brooke placed solid second at the SPC Fruit Por and is currently rated third on the ASP WCT.



PRESS/MEDIA RELEASE Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) / Rip Curl

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