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Surfer Layne Beachley Wins Event & Leads Ratings


Hossegor, France, Reigning four-time world champion Layne Beachley (Aus) today defeated wildcard Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) to win the inaugural Roxy Pro France and secure the current ratings lead. The US$60,000 women's World Championship Tournament (WCT) recommenced this morning with quarterfinal action, then continued into the semifinals and climaxed with the grand finale this afternoon.

Great 4-5ft (1.5m) waves were on offer at the main site of Le Nord, with a strong beach crowd on hand to watch the surfing action unfold. The increasing tide did change the lineup, but consistent waves persisted throughout the day.

Beachley, whose best result in 2002 had been a runner-up finish in Tahiti, got off to a quick start in the 35-minute decider. The Australian secured her best rides in the first half, holding a strong lead throughout with a combined three-wave total of 19.85-points. Her 26th professional win, she equaled the record previously set by four-time world champion Wendy Botha (Aus) for the most WCT victories ever at 24, since two events were on the World Qualifying Series (WQS).

More importantly, the 30-year-old is now well on track to becoming the first women to clinch five consecutive world titles, with only one more tournament to be held in Hawaii at Honolua Bay, Maui, this coming December.

"About bloody time," laughed Beachley, when surrounded by media. "Usually it doesn't take me this long into a year to win an event, but hey, a win's a win and I'll take it. It was really hard work out there and I was buggered. Fortunately it worked in my favor, as Sofia strived really hard and paddled past me to gain priority, but then went for waves that weren't going to offer too much and left me in the lineup alone. Strategically I think I surfed a better heat, but Sofia still deserves a lot of accolades. She took out Melanie Redman-Carr, which allowed me to progress back to the number one spot on the ratings. She surfed brilliantly throughout the whole contest and it's always tough coming up against her. She took me out at the Roxy Pro at the start of the year, so it's good to get her back.

"I love Hossegor and it's been really good to me," she continued of the venue. "I've won four times here and love the people and the crowd are so surf mad. It's great to see Europe being so supportive of surfing.

"It's nice to be able to give him this kind of present," she added, of partner Ken Bradshaw, who celebrated his 50th birthday last night. "I think this means more to him than any material thing that could be given to him. It was his goal that pushed me to win five world titles, and it's nice to have his belief in me."

Mulanovich, who won the Roxy Pro France Trials to gain her wildcard spot in the main event, was a real threat leading into the decider. The 19-year-old dominated her semifinal, but acknowledged she was somewhat overwhelmed by reaching her first WCT final. Despite securing a strong ride toward the end, she ultimately required another worth 8.01-points. Still, the Peruvian gained invaluable experience, especially since she looks set to qualify for the WCT full-time in 2003 following her recent form on the WQS this year.

"I was really stoked to be in the final, but I just got too excited I guess," reasoned Mulanovich afterward. "I just didn't surf that well, but hopefully I'll make more finals. When I saw my name written in there I was like 'whoa'. I made it pretty far, so I'm stoked with the result. I'm really confident for next year's tour."

Finishing equal third were Hawaiians Keala Kennelly and Rochelle Ballard. Kennelly, who won the Tahitian WCT earlier this year, today needed a combination of rides to catch Mulanovich in the first semifinal. Having eliminated Maria Tavares (Brz) this morning, she was unable to match her Peruvian opponent the following heat, but moved into fourth position on the current ratings.

"She kicked my butt," laughed Kennelly, following the convincing defeat. "She surfed really well and had an awesome start, an awesome middle, and then an awesome finish. What can you do? Third place is a lot better than 9th, which I got last event, so I'm easy to please. Looking forward to going home now."

Ballard, who posted a near-perfect 9.75 for her quarterfinal barrel ride this morning - the best single score of the entire Roxy Pro France - was again in form against Beachley. The pair put on an awesome display, but the Australian raised the bar even further with the second highest combined total of the event with 18.15-points.

"Yeah, I'm happy with a third as it's been a tough year for everyone on the tour," said Ballard. "It's good to have some great waves finally in a contest and be able to perform at the level we like to. It was a good semifinal and Layne just surfed really well. I think her waves allowed her to do one or two more maneuvers than I did and that's what gave her the scores she got and made the difference."

Equal fifth in the Roxy Pro France today were Maria Tavares (Brz), Heather Clark (SAfr), and Australians Chelsea Georgeson and Lynette MacKenzie. All were defeated in their respective quarterfinal matches this morning.

An Expression Session was held just prior to the women's final, showcasing the talent of 1989 world champion Martin Potter (UK) and reigning two-time ASP world masters champion Gary Elkerton (Aus). The 20-minute performance was a teaser for the next Quiksilver World Masters Championships, to be held in Safi, Morocco, January 20-February 2, 2003.

Official results of the women's Roxy Pro France
1st Layne Beachley (Aus) 19.85 - US$10,000
2nd Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 16.6 - US$6,000

Semifinals (1st > final; 2nd=3rd, receives US$4,000)
SF1: Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 17.25 def. Keala Kennelly (Haw) 13.25
SF2: Layne Beachley (Aus) 18.15 def. Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 16.5

Quarterfinals (1st > semifinals; 2nd=5th, receives US$3,000)
QF1: Keala Kennelly (Haw) 13.25 def. Maria Tavares (Brz) 10.75
QF2: Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) 11.5 def. Heather Clark (SAfr) 10.9
QF3: Layne Beachley (Aus) 13.25 def. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 9.75
QF4: Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 14.75 def. Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 9.75

Current ratings after the Roxy Pro France
1 Layne Beachley (Aus) 3,200-points
2 Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) 2,860
3 Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) 2,520
4 Keala Kennelly (Haw) 2,380
5 Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 2,310
=6 Jacqueline Silva (Brz); Samantha Cornish (Aus); Heather Clark (SAfr) 2,170
9 Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 2,160
10 Kate Skarratt (Aus) 2,150
11 Megan Abubo (Haw) 2,050
12 Maria Tavares (Brz) 1,990
13 Serena Brooke (Aus) 1,830
14 Lisa Andersen (USA) 1,540
15 Neridah Falconer (Aus) 1,360
16 Amee Donohoe (Aus) 1,350
17 Pauline Menczer (Aus) 1,200

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