2011 ASP Women’s World Tour Preview

Patagonia SwimwearPresented by InsuranceSurfers.com As the 2011 ASP Women's World Tour kicked off with the Roxy Pro Gold Coast late last week, we thought we had blown our opportunity to get this "preview" online before the event had completed. Luckily for us, the ocean stopped delivering waves to Snapper Rocks which gave us a chance to put the feature together. We mixed it up this year and asked a panel of surfers who they thought would finish in the Top 5 at year's end. As predictions poured into the office, we were surprised how similar the majority of them were. Overwhelmingly, our panel of world champions and past, present and future superstars gave the nod to Stephanie Gilmore as over 70% of them predicted that she would win her fifth straight world title. Which surfers could be standing in the way of Steph achieving another world title? Read on and see... -Chris Grant
1. Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) - 2010 ASP Ranking: 1 - www.stephgilmore.blogspot.com
Stephanie Gilmore. Photo © ASP / Cestari 4X ASP Women's World Champ, Stephanie Gilmore. Photo © ASP / Cestari "It's hard to go past Steph for number 1. She is an amazing surfer who excels in all conditions. I think she will be challenged more the ever for her title this year especially from Tyler Wright who I did consider has the ability to potentially knock her off the perch. But Steph has that valuable experience, beautiful style and I reckon she will flare more then ever to hold onto that number #1 spot." - Amee Donohoe "Steph Gilmore is an unstoppable machine. No other girl surfs with her power, fluidity, and maturity." - Bo Stanley "Steph Gilmore's immeasurable, too much style to document and so much more than just a one dimensional tour surfer. No one comes close to her." - Jessica Grimwood "It would be just awesome if Steph wins her 5th world title ...in her 5th year on tour!!!!" - Valeria Sole' "What stands out mostly about Steph is her speed... That is one of the main differences between the men and the women, but Steph surfs fast, with power and flow. She will be on top until one of the girls steps it up a notch. Big or small, Steph is consistent with no bobbles in her surfing... smooth... and always my number one pick." - Paige Alms "My gut reaction is not put Stephanie Gilmore any lower than number one. No one else has proven that they can remain psychologically strong throughout the entire year. On the other hand, I want to place her second or third for this year and am hopeful that someone will break the very thick ice that has set in over the past four years. I heard a funny rumour that Steph was pissed at my power rankings on Surfline because I ripped some of the girls pretty hard. The funny thing is she did the same in the water and seems to have no qualms with that. Well, good on ya Steph. I am still putting you #1 for the fifth year running. Even though airs are the future, women’s surfing is still struggling with stylistic consistency and flowing maneuvers and Steph’s got both in spades. (And btw, the rumours that I can’t surf aren’t true. Sorry I know it’s easier to believe that the critic’s a kook, but not this time)." - Di Mattison
2. Carissa Moore (Hawaii) - 2010 ASP Ranking: 3 - www.carissamoore.com
Carissa Moore. Photo © ASP / Cestari With two wins on the 2010 World Tour, Carissa Moore looks to be a serious threat to take it all in 2011. Photo © ASP / Cestari "Carissa's beginning to put her talent and game together." - Rochelle Ballard "Carissa Moore! Kaisers and Bowls pride right here!! I grew up watching Carissa surf all my South Shore spots. She is such an awesome girl inside and out and obviously is going to take over the world of women's surfing sooner than later. Sista is mind boggling! Need I say more..." - Shea Hodges "She's Carissa Moore." - Sara Taylor "Carissa will win the world title in 2012. Slight chance she’ll even win this year. She’s got the whole package for sure. New Zealand and Portugal were clear signs of her ascendancy. Oh and two tour wins in a rookie season is not too shabby either. The key to Carissa’s final result is going to be wave selection. She has the tricks, the power, the style, and she’ll just need waves to execute. So yeah 2nd place, but just barely." - Di Mattison "Carissa Moore's a fan favorite who rarely dissapoints. However, she is young and her inexperience might leave her one spot short of number one. She will for sure be ripping but may get distracted by all the bright lights." - Lauren Sweeney
3. Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia) - 2010 ASP Ranking: 2 - www.sallyfitzgibbons.com
Sally Fitzgibbons. Photo © ASP / Robertson Currently second in the world, Sally Fitzgibbons will be looking to secure her maiden CT victory in 2011. Photo © ASP / Robertson - Kim Wooldridge "This guestimating stuff is so difficult because I really want to see Sally take a world title, but my prophetic powers suggest that it won’t be this year. She’ll stay at the top with the way she’s able to drop multiple high scores in every heat. I also have a secret notion that she read my power rankings and made stylistic adjustments per my recommendations, because I felt that there was so much more flow going on in her turns in 2010. Now that the style and flow have mixed with the power and amp, peaking before the final remains her Achilles heal. All champions figure out how to do this and so will Sally before she becomes one." - Di Mattison "Sally will soon be unbeatable." - Wini Paul "2010 was a great year for Sally, quite a few runner-ups and semis. This year I foresee her first CT win, no doubt. Sally will definitely be in the top 5 at every contest, she is a very consistent competitor and will go out and get a 9 while everyone else is getting 6's..." - Paige Alms "Sally and Courtney, I cant really decide between these two. Personally, I think they carry the same components ...both great all-around athletes with high levels of consistency which will have to put them on the upper side of the ladder. They're both able to perform in poor wave conditions so having some new not-so-high-performance wave destinations wont faze them. Both definitely have the ability to take a win, just need to add the flare at the right time." - Amee Donohoe "Because Sally is strong and was close last year ...this is her year." - Nicole Grodesky
4. Silvana Lima (Brazil) - 2010 ASP Ranking: 4 - www.silvanalima.com.br
Silvana Lima. Photo © ASP / Kirstin Although better known for her air assault, Silvana Lima charges the big stuff as well. Photo © ASP / Kirstin "This is going to be the year that Silvana turns on the afterburners and blows people away. She doesn't really have a choice but to rip, tear, and lacerate her way to the top seeing that the young guns on tour this year are going to be chomping at the bit. Can't wait to see her shred the gnar!" -Lauren Sweeney "With so much new school focus, credit is always due to those who have stamped their position. Silvana would have to be the most progressive surfer in there. Landing airs daily, always a title contender with that bag of tricks, how could she not be? You would have to be stupid to discount this Brazilian at being more than an arm's length away from that trophy." - Amee Donohoe "Silvana's a bad ass!" - Rochelle Ballard "She’ll hold off the rest of the rookies. Always a threat for the title. Consistency has dogged her the past few years. She posts 10s and then 1s. Huge talent. Amazing style. Amazing barrel rider. I’d actually really like to see Silvana prove this whole list wrong and come out on top, but like I constantly repeated in the year I did the power rankings, she’s got to pull those airs and nuts barrels in nearly every heat, and especially in the semis and finals. Her career trajectory actually reminds me a lot of Taj Burrow, who talent-wise is certainly world-title worthy, but just can’t seem to string the event wins together at the right point in the season. Here’s hoping against the odds." - Di Mattison "Silvana Lima because she slays it! Besides Melanie Bartels and Courtney Conlogue the only other girl surfer that surfs like a guy. SO powerful, charges, and boosts!!!" - Shea Hodges "Silvana Lima just plain rips and surfs with so much risk and aggression. Sick to watch." - Sara Taylor
5. Tyler Wright (Australia) - 2010 ASP Ranking: Rookie - www.ripcurl.com.au
Tyler Wright. Photo © ASP / Kirstin A stellar 2010 Hawaiian season put the world on notice that Tyler Wright is a very well-rounded surfer. Photo © ASP / Kirstin "Tyler Wright, the best surfer I've seen." - Rochelle Ballard "Tyler has it I think. She's going to be a big threat. She's young, talented, athletic, driven and froths to surf and push her level of surfing more then most. She's not the least bit fazed about any of her rivals and knows how to win consistently. As we have all seen before its only a matter of time before she jumps a spot." - Amee Donohoe "Tyler's fresh, aggressive, focused and rides for Powerbase fins like her bro Owen (I work for them too so I gotta support the team!)." - Jessica Grimwood "Tyler's my "bolter" depends on which high seed she catches in the 3rd round, and if she can handle everything that comes along being so young and on tour." - Kim Wooldridge "It's only Tyler's first year on the tour and she's only 16 but that's why I think she'll do well. After watching her at the Triple Crown this year she's shown that she has the drive to succeed." - Emily Wratschko
6. Coco Ho (Hawaii) - 2010 ASP Ranking: 7
Coco Ho. Photo © ASP / Robertson"Always a strong surfer in all conditions. Coco's throw tails on her forehand and backhand are mind boggling even for some of the boys. I see Coco doing well this year from the start at Snapper... Pull those airs Cokes 'n you'd be unstoppable!" - Paige Alms
7. Courtney Conlogue (United States) - 2010 ASP Ranking: Rookie
Courtney Conlogue. Photo © ASP / Robertson"Courtney Conlogue is definitely making a statement slowly but surely. If you're paying attention you cant miss her exciting backhand snap 360s or getting spit out of a nuts heaving barrel in Indo somewhere. Again... if politics weren't involved we would see a lot more of her smooth reverses and spitting barrels in some hipsteresqe, sepia colored, techno filled surf segment. Instead she's training all day to pull into bigger barrels than you!" - Shea Hodges
8. Melanie Bartels (Hawaii) - 2010 ASP Ranking: 8
Melanie Bartels. Photo © ASP / Rowland"#1 stunna in my eyes is Bartels! Ya Mel may not be as good of a contest surfer as Steph or Silvana, but when she's got a travel fund, the politics aren't involved, and that bag of tricks opens up she'll wax everyone! 96792!" - Shea Hodges
9. Chelsea Hedges (Australia) - 2010 ASP Ranking: 6
Chelsea Hedges. Photo © ASP / Morris"Chelsea is my pick for number 3 ...if she does the whole tour. She has no sponsor or cash, and is totally ripping in everything, would love to see it big and barrelling for her. Damn, where's Chopes for the girls?" - Kim Wooldridge
10. Laura Enever (Australia) - 2010 ASP Ranking: Rookie
Laura Enever. Photo © ASP / Kirstin"In my humble opinion, a wild card pick for Top 5." - Nicole Grodesky

Special thanks to the following surfers for participating in our 2011 ASP Women's World Tour Preview: Paige Alms, Jamie Baittinger, Rochelle Ballard, Wendy Botha, Serena Brooke, Chloe Buckley, Meah Collins, Shelby Detmers, Amee Donohoe, Jessica Grimwood, Nicole Grodesky, Bethany Hamilton, Shea Hodges, Alexia Jeri, Di Mattison, Kim Mearig, Wini Paul, Lakey Peterson, Marissa Shaw, Jolene Smith, Valeria Sole', Bo Stanley, Lauren Sweeney, Sara Taylor, Valentina Vitale, Kim Wooldridge, and Emily Wratschko. *Click the link to check out the Complete List of Our Top 5 ASP Picks as chosen by all of the surfers named above.

Fitzgibbons, Lima & Mulanovich Gear Up for Roxy Pro Gold Coast

Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 20, 2010 ASP Women's World Runner-Up, will kickstart her 2011 ASP Women's World Title campaign at the upcoming Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover. Photo: ASP / Cestari. Pictured: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 20, 2010 ASP Women’s World Runner-Up, will kickstart her 2011 ASP Women’s World Title campaign at the upcoming Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover. Photo Credit: © ASP / CESTARI
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ASSOCIATION OF SURFING PROFESSIONALS (ASP) INTERNATIONAL Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover ASP World Title Event No. 1 of 11 Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover ASP Women’s World Title Event No. 1 of 7 Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia February 26 – March 9, 2011 Sally Fitzgibbons, Silvana Lima and Sofia Mulanovich Gear Up for Roxy Pro Gold Coast GOLD COAST, Queensland/Australia (Tuesday, February 22, 2011) –The ASP Top 17 will spring back into action this weekend for the opening event of the 2011 ASP Women’s World Title season, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover. Boasting a waiting period of February 26 through March 9, 2011, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast will feature the world’s best female surfers as they start their respective campaigns for the 2011 ASP Women’s World Title. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 20, 2010 ASP Women’s World Runner-Up, is keen to get back into the competition singlet following an off season spent traipsing up and down the Eastern seaboard of Australia. “I've really enjoyed my off season at home,” Fitzgibbons said. “It seemed to fly by so fast and now we are already gearing up for the Roxy Pro. I managed to get all my wisdom teeth pulled out in my time off and spent some time at Snapper when the cyclone swells hit. I surfed and trained up and down the South Coast and I taught one of my heroes, tennis star Martina Navratilova, how to surf.” Fitzgibbons will be honoured as the ASP Women’s World Runner-Up at the ASP World Surfing Awards on the Gold Coast this Thursday. “I had a really exciting year in 2010 and learned so much,” Fitzgibbons said. “I came close to a few wins throughout the year, so I now know the things I have to do to take that extra step and win. I was happy with my consistency last year and finishing at World Number 2 is something to be proud of. I will carry the confidence from that into the upcoming season. I will keep pushing to improve my performance throughout the 2011 World Tour.” Coming off a banner year in 2010, Fitzgibbons will look to firmly cement her reputation as and ASP Women’s World Title contender this season. “My motivations to start the season are as always: that I love competing and surfing with the World's Best and that I want to be World Champion,” Fitzgibbons said. “My goals will be to keep improving my surfing through the year, to win a few events would be amazing and soak up all the excitement that comes with being on the World Tour. I want to enjoy my travels and explore along the way, I'm hoping to find some waves that I haven't yet surfed. I'm really excited for the upcoming event as I like watching everyone and the new rookies and seeing who's switched on for a great year.” Fitzgibbons will face rookie Laura Enever (AUS), 19, and replacement surfer Claire Bevilacqua (AUS), 28, in Round 1 of the Roxy Pro. Silvana Lima (BRA), 26, former ASP Women’s World Runner-Up, spent the off season recharging at home in Brazil, but the progressive Brazilian is keen to return to competition to take on the new generation of talent. “Staying home with family is very good,” Lima said. “I trained hard and I have some new equipment and I'm very excited to get the new season.Last year, I didn’t start very well. After a few events, Iimproved, but the beginning of the year hurt me with a better result this year will not repeat the same mistake, I will give my best to accomplish my big dream. I'm anxious to see the new generation. It excites me greatly. I want to see radical surfing.” Limabattles Rebecca Woods (AUS), 26, and Pauline Ado (FRA), 20, in the opening round of competition. Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 27, former ASP Women’s World Champion, was another South American to capitalize on her native waves during the break, refining her abilities and working on her fitness. “I have been home all my off season,” Mulanovich said. “The waves have been amazing here, there has no been a flat days. I have also been doing a bit of physical training and a lot of meditation and Tai Chi. It feels really good and I feel good for this year. My goal is to improve my surfing and hopefully that gives me good results.” “Snapper is one of the most high-performance waves on tour so it is one of the funnest to surf,” Mulanovich said. “Everyone loves snapper and I am sure all the girls are pumped to surf it. For sure, the ASP Women’s World Champ is always the one to watch, but all the girls on tour are amazingly talented surfers and I think this year the level of women’s surfing will be through the roof.” Mulanovich will take on Paige Hareb (NZL), 20, and Jacqueline Silva (BRA), 31, in the opening heat of the Roxy Pro. The Roxy Pro Gold Coast will run from February 26 through March 9, 2011 and will be webcast LIVE via http://www.quiksilverpro.com Running in conjunction with the women’s event will be the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover, the opening event in the ASP World Title season. For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1: Heat 1:Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Paige Hareb (NZL), Jacqueline Silva (BRA) Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA), Rebecca Woods (AUS), Pauline Ado (FRA) Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Tyler Wright (AUS), TBA Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Laura Enever (AUS), Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), Alana Blanchard (HAW) Heat 6: Chelsea Hedges (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW), Courtney Conlogue (USA) QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1: Heat 1:Adrian Buchan (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Julian Wilson (AUS) Heat 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Gabe Kling (USA) Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS), Bobby Martinez (USA), Taj Burrow (AUS) Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS), Fredrick Patachia (HAW), Raoni Monteiro (BRA) Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), TBA Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), TBA Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS), Taylor Knox (USA), Dusty Payne (HAW) Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Brett Simpson (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS) Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA) Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Daniel Ross (AUS) Heat 11: Chris Davidson (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS) Heat 12: Jadson Andre (BRA), Damien Hobgood (USA), Tiago Pires (PRT)

Five Minutes with Courtney Conlogue

HSS rider, Courtney ConloguePresented by InsuranceSurfers.com It's been thirteen years since Lisa Anderson won her last World Title. As the 2011 ASP Women's World Tour gets underway in a few short weeks, the mainland looks to have a contender that could bring the trophy back to America ...it may not be this year, or the next, but in my heart of hearts I'm convinced it will happen for this talented young woman. Of all the surfers I know personally, not one has worked harder to get into this position than Courtney Conlogue and when you see her drop into a wave, it's easy to see that she means business. Courtney's style is based on power and her highly technical bottom turns and blistering direction changes testify of her commitment to the rail. I've seen her drive straight up and smash lips on WAY overhead waves that hardly any surfers, male or female, want a part of. If the Tour lucks into solid waves this season, Courtney is going to be one to watch. As the ASP's live feed lights up our computer monitors throughout the year, we'll be sitting in the office waving little American flags for the California girl with the dream of one day being World Champion, Courtney Conlogue. -Chris Grant JettyGirl: We're so excited to see a new American surfer make the Tour and nobody is more deserving than you with all the hard work you've put into it. With surf contests going on virtually every weekend throughout the mainland, why do you think there has been such a long drought without a US-mainland surfer on Tour? Are other countries (along with Hawaii) doing something that we're not doing here to prepare surfers for the big show? Courtney Conlogue: The Australian and Hawaiian surfers outnumber us I think. When I'm in the line-up at home many times I'm the only woman in the water. I've never understood it really. The Australian and Hawaiian women surfers are recognized a lot and hopefully I can bring more of that to the USA. Surfers are incredible athletes and should get that recognition. Australia has the support of their country for surfing. They have wonderful surf clubs at every beach and high performance training camps too. I was raised with several camps that used to be available such as the "Serena Brooke Day" or the "Rochelle Ballard Camps" back in the day. They no longer exist. I was trained through NSSA contests too. I could count on the NSSA events to run year after year as scheduled. Surfing America came along and I've been a part of their program since I was 11 years old. Their program gave me access to the international competition that I didn't have at home. I attended everything I could and loved all of it. However, these camps and contests didn't offer what the Surfing Australia High Performance Center does for their athletes. My parents gave me the best they could with well-rounded and balanced support for my goals and dreams. I've had a lot of individual support from my sponsors too. It has been a lot of work but fun too. Courtney Conlogue, winner of the 2009 Supergirl Pro Junior in Oceanside, California Courtney Conlogue surf photo by Chris Grant, JettyGirl.com Courtney Conlogue surf photo by Chris Grant, JettyGirl.com Courtney Conlogue sequence by Chris Grant, JettyGirl.com JG: Kelly had Andy. Curren had Occy. Is there anyone on Tour that you're particularly looking forward to competing against? CC: With this new crop of rookie athletes on the tour I think there will be many that will give me solid competition. I can't really pick one right now. JG: We've heard rumors (and seen evidence) that you've been taking to the air lately. Do you think airs are going to play a bigger role in heats this year on the women's tour? Why or why not? CC: I don't think airs will ever replace great solid, carving, power surfing. It's important though to bring new and innovative moves to a heat if the wave offers it. I know with the judging rules they want risk involved with our maneuvers. It's just another thing added to my cookie jar. JG: Which breaks are you most looking forward to surfing on tour this year and which waves do you think match best with your style of surfing? CC: I don't want to sound like I'm not giving details but I'm really just looking forward to surfing the tour! I've never surfed any of these locations before so it's going to be a lot of fun just figuring out everything the first year. I know I'll be in Australia for a lot of the tour competing on the WQS and WCT. JG: Nobody makes the Tour without solid boards underfoot. Tell us a little bit about your shaper and your boards (without revealing any secrets). How many boards do you think you'll go through while on Tour this year? CC: My boards have been going through some changes lately. I've worked with several shapers and I'm still learning about my equipment. I really don't know what to expect this year. JG: At the end of 2011, how will you define success? CC: I'll define my success by learning and overcoming the tour's challenges, making new friendships, creating a global family of support, and not falling off the tour! Courtney Conlogue surrounded with young fans. Photo by Chris Grant, JettyGirl.comJG: Last year at the US Open, I saw dozens of little kids, both girls and boys, following you up and down the beach and generally looking up in awe at you. Do you take the title of "role model" seriously? CC: I completely take the role model thing seriously! I was one of those little girls reading the mags, watching the surf videos, getting the autographs of the pros when I could. I know how important it is to inspire a young person. I live approximately 20 miles inland, went to a school without a surf team and none of my friends at school surfed until I went to high school at Sage Hill in Newport Coast. I've always been called the underdog, the weekend warrior, the Rocky Balboa of surfing, and I don't really know if anyone thought I'd ever keep going towards my heartfelt goals and dreams. But here I am because of the people that inspired and supported me when I was that little girl. Courtney gets a pre-heat pep talk from her sister, Charleen.JG: We know you're just about to take off for Australia shortly, but in closing we wish you our heartiest congratulations and hope for all the best for you in your rookie season. Are there any people you'd like to thank who helped you get to where you are now and who played a large part in the realization of your childhood dream to make the World Tour? CC: I want to thank my family and friends for all their support. My dad, mom, brother and sister for always being there in so many ways. Thank you to all the individuals that run the NSSA, ISA, WSA, ASP, and Surfing America events. You helped to bring me this far. Thank you to my coaches throughout the years that have given me guidance. Thank you to the many sponsors old and current that supported me. Thank you to all of you that supported and helped the girl with the dream.
Courtney Conlogue surf photo by Chris Grant, JettyGirl.com One of the keys to good surfing is flexibility. Courtney Conlogue stretches before paddling out. Courtney Conlogue surf photo by Chris Grant, JettyGirl.com Courtney Conlogue surf photo by Chris Grant, JettyGirl.com Courtney Conlogue surf photo by Chris Grant
Courtney Conlogue - JettyGirl Surf Video ClipPhoto Credits: CHRIS GRANT/JETTYGIRL.COM • Courtney Conlogue surf video clip on JettyGirl's YouTube Channel • Courtney also visited with us in 2008 for one of our first episodes of "Five Minutes with..." . Check out what Courtney was up to back then: Five Minutes with Courtney Conlogue (2008)

A Little North of Absurd

Melanie Bartels surf photo by Chris Grant, JettyGirl.com

Melanie Bartels in Huntington Beach, California. Photo: Chris Grant / JettyGirl.com

[ An opinion piece originally written in March of 2010 but sadly still relevant one year later. ] I'm a big fan of pro surfing, always have been. I know it's not always cool to like the professional aspect of surfing but since I enjoy watching other paid athletes competing in their chosen fields, it's a natural fit for me to sit on the sand and view the best of the best pushing the limits in surf contests as well. Enter the 2010 ASP Women's World Tour which kicked off a week or so ago at the Roxy Pro held at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast... This isn't a contest review so let's just fast forward to the Finals where Hawaii's Melanie Bartels met up with World Champ Stephanie Gilmore. Despite the exciting lead-up to the Final, the waves were lackluster at best and Stephanie Gilmore started off where she left off last year, atop the winner's podium with a well-deserved victory. Surfing aside, what caught my eye (and ear) most about the day was a live interview with Melanie Bartels as she left the water after the Semifinals. Following the joyous acknowledgement of making the Final and after graciously thanking her shaper and accessory sponsor, Mel looked into the camera and speaking directly to the "Surf Industry" (i.e. the surf apparel industry) asked something to the effect of, "Can someone sponsor me please?" There was a bit of uncomfortable silence, some half-laughter and a quick conversation change by the commentators but the question was hung out there and now deserves an answer. The ball is now in your court "Surf Industry." How will you answer Mel's inquiry? I ask as well ...how is one of the most talented females to ever ride a surfboard not sponsored by one of you? Is she not blonde enough, too Hawaiian for your taste or does she simply not kiss enough corporate behinds? If she donned a tiny bikini and extended out her bottom turns, would that help her case? One of the world's most progressive female surfers is sponsorless and that is simply absurd. -Chris Grant
One final note: The 2011 ASP Women's World Tour is set to kick-off in less than three weeks. As of this moment nearly 30% of the female surfers on the World Tour don't have a major sponsor.