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Top Seeds Return to Form at the Roxy Surf Festival

sam cornish, samantha cornish

claire bevilacqua, bevo Left: Samantha Cornish with a big win in Round 4. Photo: ASP Robertson © Covered Images. Above: West Australian Claire Bevilacqua won her heat ahead of ASP World Junior Champion Sally Fitzgibbons. Photo: ASP Robertson © Covered Images.


Top Seeds Return to Form at the Roxy Surf Festival

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia (Thursday, January 24, 2008) – Top seeded surfers showed they meant business at the Roxy Surf Festival at Phillip Island this morning, dominating in the solid one-metre waves, on offer at Woolamai Beach.

After three consecutive days of standout performances from junior surfers competing in the premier 6-Star ASP World Qualifying Series division, experience shined through with ASP World No. 4 Sam Cornish (Crescent Head, NSW, AUS) leading the charge.

“The juniors are surfing really well, I won’t take anything away from them, but I think they still need to step it up,” Cornish said emerging as the on-form surfer of her Round 4 heat.

“They have a lot to prove until they surf on the WCT level and I feel that while I am not overly pushing myself in my heats, the juniors are giving it all they’ve got.”

While Cornish’s performance was not quite her best, the sixth year pro surfed a technically smart heat - advancing in first place ahead of Fransisca Santos (PRT), the pair eliminating Kirstie Jones (Sunshine Coast, QLD, AUS) and yesterday’s sensation Laura Enever (Narrabeen, NSW, AUS).

“It was a tough heat, there’s a really strong rip out there and positioning is tricky but I did enough to get through, and that’s all that matters,” Cornish finished.

Former ASP World Tour campaigner Claire Bevilacqua (Perth, WA, AUS), who fell off the top tier tour after a three year campaign at the end of 2007, exhibited the type of surfing that should see her fly through the WQS, as she focuses on returning to elite competition.

The powerful West Australian flew in from a two month stint in Hawaii but had no problem adjusting to the smaller beach break conditions. The World No. 13 blasted off her opening wave to earn an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10.00), advancing ahead of ASP World Junior Champion Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW, AUS) and eliminating Alana Blanchard (HAW) and Jessica Hickson (Boomerang, NSW, AUS).

“I’m not scared of the babies but in these conditions they definitely shine,” Bevilacqua explained. “I’m actually motivated by their surfing and they make me want to surf better, so I’m just out there trying to surf my best.”

“I have a job to do this year and I’m just trying to look at it a positive way,” Bevilaqua continued. “It’s a great job surfing for a living, it is hard to get motivated but you just have to put your head down and show the judges that you mean business.”

Bevilaqua will come up against her former ASP World tour rivals Cornish and World No. 8 Jessi Miley-Dye (Bronte, NSW, AUS) in her all important Round 5 heat tomorrow.

Laurina McGrath (Byron Bay, NSW, AUS), another former World Tour campaigner hoping to make her way back onto the top tier tour, was quick off the mark with an 8.00 off her second ride.

The visibly fit and focussed competitor lead the heat from start to finish, to advance into Round 5 ahead of ASP World Tour requalifier Serena Brooke (Gold Coast, QLD, AUS) who advanced in second, while ASP World No. 12 Roseanne Hodge (ZAF) and Kim Wooldridge (Woolangong, NSW, AUS) were eliminated from the event.

Last year’s Roxy Surf Festival Pro Junior winner Erica Hosseini (USA) looks set to make her mark on the WQS in 2008. The 20-year-old surfer and model grabbed the crowd’s attention with the highest scoring ride of the entire event, a near perfect 9.75 to win her heat and advance into the next round.

“I’m so stoked!” Hosseini said. “I knew I needed a second wave, so for it to be a 9.75, I’ll take it! The competition at this level is fierce- there are no more easy heats. You have to bring you’re A-game or you’re going down.”

While the older girls certainly were the standout performers on the day, a number of the younger girls kept themselves well within the game.

Shark attack survivor and Hawaii’s finest up-and-coming junior Bethany Hamilton kept her WQS hopes alive by advancing in second place behind Hosseini. Hamilton’s powerful surfing looks set to make her a threat when she comes up against fellow Hawaiian Leilani Gryde and McGrath in Round 5 tomorrow.

Paige Hareb (NZL) continued to shine alongside her older counterparts; the only New Zealander left in the event produced perfectly executed manoeuvres to capture a sensational heat win over ASP World No. 8 Jessi Miley-Dyer (Bronte, NSW, AUS) who finished in second, eliminating Kyla Langen (USA) and Angela Keighran (Mullaway, NSW, AUS) from the event.

Round 4 of the 6-Star WQS division was completed this morning followed by the WQS Longboards which saw ASP World Longboard Champion Jessica Smith (USA), Cassia Meador (USA), defending champion Chelsea Williams (Tweed Head, NSW, AUS) and Isabelle Braley (NSW, AUS) win their respective heats to advance into the Semifinals.

The Roxy Surf Festival is held in association with the Victorian State Government "Play it Safe by the Water" and proudly supported by ASP Australasia, Surfing Victoria, Bass Coast Shire Council and Phillip Island Nature Park.

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