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Megan Abubo Takes Women's Figueira Pro Surfing Championship


Figueira da Foz, Portugal - Former world #2 Megan Abubo (Haw) today defeated Samantha Cornish (Aus) to win the women's division of the Figueira Pro. The US$310,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT), comprising both men and women, once again changed venues this morning due to a continued decrease in swell. Organizers initially placed the event on hold as small surf prevailed, but the four semifinalists ultimately decided they wanted a winner and were prepared to surf the marginal conditions.

Molho Norte was 1-2 ft (0.3-06m), with the increasing push following low tide providing the window of opportunity needed. As soon as the final finished, however, the higher tide made the break virtually non-existent.

Abubo, who last won a WCT in Fiji 2001, today secured much needed confidence and ratings points by claiming her seventh major event victory. Despite a poor start to the season, the 24 year old turned her year around against Cornish in the 30-minute final. The Hawaiian began with two strong waves and ultimately led from the halfway mark, collecting US$10,000 prizemoney and jumped into equal eighth position.

"I'm so stoked," began Abubo. "It's been a hard week and the waves have been really small. To come down here and have this be the final day is a little disappointing, but it's a major confidence boost for me since I haven't been doing too well on tour this year.

"I knew the waves were going to get worse throughout the whole heat," she continued. "Sam is such a good surfer, but I got lucky to find those waves at the start. It was knee high out there, so I think Mother Nature was on my side with the ones I caught.

"All that was playing on my mind was that if I win I can qualify (for next year's WCT)," she added, given her prior position of equal 14th. "I've had such a horrible year until now. I've worked really hard, doing the whole World Qualifying Series (WQS) this summer in France and California. The more surfing I've been doing this year, the better a competitor I feel like I'm becoming. I just hope we get some swell for the next event in France. It'd be great to surf some heats with good waves. I really enjoyed coming here to Portugal, it was just unfortunate we didn't get much surf."

Cornish, a WCT newcomer, secured her best result to date with a runner-up finish. The Australian surfed confidently all event, defeating current ratings leader Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) twice, including today's semifinal match where she posted the highest three-wave total of the entire tournament for 21-points. Against Abubo in the final she earned the best single score of 7.5, but at conclusion the 21-year-old was still searching or another ride worth 5.76-points. Nonetheless, the result moved her all the way into equal fourth on the ratings.

"I wasn't feeling too good after the final," admitted Cornish, just prior to the awards ceremony. "There wasn't a lot of waves out there and I didn't get off to an early start. Megan got all of the set waves and they were hard conditions. I'm really happy now though. It was my first final and a good experience to surf against Megan. It's really boosted my ratings, and beating Melanie, the current ratings leader twice, was a huge confidence booster for the rest of the year. Hopefully I can keep it up.

"I feel I'm surfing really well at the moment," she continued. "I was struggling at the beginning of the year and didn't have much fire in me, but now I've got it back and I'm really hungry to win. Second was good today, but I want to get that first, and hopefully I can do it next event."

Finishing equal third today in the Figueira Pro were current ratings leader Melanie Redman-Carr and reigning four-time world champion Layne Beachley (both Aus).

Redman-Carr, who secured the best single wave of both her semifinal and the day for 8.25 points against Cornish, ultimately required another 6.26 to advance. Toward the end of their 30-minute clash waves became even less frequent and holding priority, her younger opponent made use of the advantage. Still, the West Australian remains on top of the ratings leading into next weeks' WCT in France.

"I felt upset when Sam got that really good wave at the start," said Redman-Carr. "There just weren't any waves and pretty long gaps between them at the end. I pretty much knew when she was winning with seven minutes to go there wouldn't be any more good waves out there."

Beachley, who moved into second on the ratings following her result, was frustrated nonetheless after defeat to Abubo. Extremely motivated to clinch an unprecedented fifth consecutive world title, the Australian trailed from the start and was unable to find the final 5.21-points she required.

"It was incredibly frustrating," said Beachley afterward. "I just had a really bad game plan... I'm really frustrated. It's disappointing to lose in those conditions, but you have to roll the dice and go with it. I guess we're just thankful we could finish our event.

"She caught the better waves and surfed a better heat and therefore made the final," she continued. "My focus is the world title and unless I place at least one spot ahead of Mel each event, I'm not going to catch her. It's not a bad start to the European leg, however, so hopefully we score more waves in France."

A decision will be made tomorrow morning at 7:30am (local time) as to the men's schedule. Pressure is mounting with only one day remaining in the waiting period and no favorable predictions for increased swell.

Official results of the 2002 Figueira Pro women's division
1st Megan Abubo (Haw) 17.75 - US$10,000
2nd Samantha Cornish (Aus) 16.5 - US$6,000

(1st advances; defeated finish =3rd; receive US$4,000)
SF1: Samantha Cornish (Aus) 21.0 def. Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) 20.45
SF2: Megan Abubo (Haw) 15.9 def. Layne Beachley (Aus) 15.3

Current Ratings after Figueira Pro
1 Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) 2,560-points
2 Layne Beachley (Aus) 2,200
3 Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 2,060
=4 Jacqueline Silva (Brz); Samantha Cornish (Aus) 1,870
=6 Kate Skarratt (Aus); Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 1,850
=8 Keala Kennelly (Haw); Megan Abubo (Haw) 1,750
10 Heather Clark (SAfr) 1,710
=11 Maria Tavares (Brz); Rochelle Ballard (Haw); Serena Brooke (Aus) 1,530
=14 Lisa Andersen (USA) 1,390
=15 Neridah Falconer (Aus) 1,060
=16 Pauline Menczer (Aus); Amee Donohoe (Aus) 1,050

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