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Surfing - 02. April 2008.


REIGNING world champion Stephanie Gilmore showed onlookers at the Midori Pro at Merewether beach in Newcastle today exactly why many see her as a stand-out favourite to regain the women's crown in 2008.

Gilmore racked up the morning's top score in the Midori Pro and easily accounted for her opposition in the round of 48.

In clean one metre conditions fanned by a north-westerly breeze, Gilmore showed a backhand attack that she said had been in hibernation while surfing the first two World Championship Tour (WCT) events held on the right-handers at Snapper Rocks in Queensland and at Bells Beach in Victoria.

"I haven't gone left for awhile. I was a little bit wobbly . . . but I guess it's another challenge I like to bring myself to.

"It's always good to gain some experience in left-handers, especially in competition," a relaxed champion told gathered media.

Gilmore will surf again tomorrow in the second heat of the round of 24, which commences at 1.20pm local time.

Local Philippa Anderson, who was dealt a wild card into this event, was bundled out of competition by less than two points by former world grommet champion and fellow Aussie Laurina McGrath.

In the same heat, Kiwi Paige Hareb progressed, while Hawaiian Beth Hamilton, currently sitting in the number two spot on the WQS ratings, was eliminated from competition.

Hamilton has never had any luck in Newcastle, having always been bundled out of competition here in early rounds.

The young Hawaiian said that she was now looking forward to surfing in what she hoped would be bigger conditions at Margaret River.

Sixteen-year-old Australian Laura Enever, who hails from North Narrabeen on Sydney's northern beaches, continued the winning form that saw her defeat WQS ratings leader Sally Fitzgibbons in the Motorola Pro Junior at the same beach last Sunday.

Meanwhile Fitzgibbons continued her devastating form to easily take out her heat and continue her seemingly unstoppable charge towards being a contender for the 2008 WCT crown.

Lee Ann Curren, daughter of three-time world champion Tom, was eliminated from competition after a convincing display of solid surfing yesterday.

Other internationals to progress today in the Midori Pro included Meagan Abubo (HAW), Karina Petroni (USA), Jacqueline Silva (BRA), Mizuli Hagiwara (JPN) and Rosanne Hodge (Sth AFR).

Aussies still in contention include the only woman to have won the Newcastle event three times, Rebecca Woods from Copacabana.

Also progressing were Bronte powerhouse Nicola Atherton and Jessica Grimwood from Bateau Bay.
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