MANLY, Sydney (Monday, Oct. 8, 2007) –
Beachley was defeated by wildcard surfer and current ASP World No. 4 Stephanie Gilmore (Aus) at the inaugural event in 2006 and has expressed her excitement at taking up the challenge of facing this year’s wildcard Sally Fitzgibbins (AUS), during Round 1.
“Last year I was kicking myself for inviting Steph Gilmore but this year I am just open to the wildcard challenge,” Beachley said at the official NAB Beachley Classic press conference, today. “I’m loving what surfing is producing. There is so much talent coming through the ranks, especially from the Australians and they are inspiring me to be a better surfer.”
One of the world’s most accomplished water women, Beachley has also developed into a successful business woman, producing the richest stop on the ASP Women’s World Tour while maintaining a top ten position on the ASP ratings.
“I think one of the greatest things about being on the tour now is being inspired by all the girls around me,” Beachley explained. “It’s exciting to see and it drives me to continue competing and to put more back into women’s surfing.”
Fitzgibbons emerged as the overall standout through five rounds of competition during the Oakley Wildcard trials this morning. The sixteen-year-old ASP Australasian champion disposed of Sage Erickson (USA) in the final, advancing into the main event.
“I’m super stoked,” Fitzgibbons said after her win. “I just went out there to surf my own heat and get a few waves and I kept getting through heats and made it into the final.”
Fitzgibbons faces Beachley and World No. 14 Claire Bevilacqua (Aus) in Heat 3 of Round 1 when the NAB Beachley Classic gets underway later this week.
“I haven’t really thought about taking Layne on in Round 1,” Fitzgibbons admitted. “It’s just a dream come true to have this opportunity to surf in an ASP Women’s World Tour event and I hope we get some waves.”
With the top four rated surfers separated by the narrowest of margins, the bonus points on offer at the Manly event are expected to significantly impact the ASP ratings. For a surfer such as Beachley, who is rated World No. 7, this event could make or break her campaign for that World No. 1 spot going into the final leg in Hawaii.
“Given that I have had a challenging season to date, I am looking forward to turning my whole year around at this event,” Beachley said. “Ofcourse the bonus will be an enormous advantage to everyone, but none more than the victor. Considering the closeness of the title race this year, these extra points could have a significant impact on each and every competitor.”
Samantha Cornish (Aus) currently holds down the World No. 1 spot ahead of Brazilian sensation Silvana Lima (Brz) who is close behind her at World No. 2.
2004 ASP World Champion Sofia Mulanovich (Per) is fresh off a victory in Spain and at World No. 3 will be in fighting form, while former joint ASP ratings leaders Stephanie Gilmore (Aus) and Chelsea Hedges (Aus) lie at 4th and 5th respectively.
The first heat in the water sees Cornish take on World No. 6 Rebecca Woods (Aus) and World No. 12 Jacqueline Silva (AUS).
The NAB Beachley Classic runs from 9- 14 October, 2007 and is the richest stop on the ASP Women’s World Tour. The event holds a prizemoney purse of US$ 100 000 as well as 20% bonus ASP ratings points.
The event is produced by Layne Beachley in collaboration with National Australia Bank and the Association of Surfing Professionals.
Oakley Wildcard Trials Results
Final: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15,15 def Sage Erickson (USA) 13,15
NAB Beachley Classic Round 1
Heat 1: Samantha Cornish (AUS); Rebecca Woods (AUS); Jacqueline Silva (BRA)
Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA); Amee Donohoe (AUS); Roseanne Hodge (ZAF)
Heat 3: Layne Beachley (AUS); Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS); Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)
Heat 4: Sofia Mulanovich (PER); Megan Abubo (HAW); Rochelle Ballard (HAW)
Heat 5: Chelsea Hedges (AUS); Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS); Caroline Sarran (FRA)
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS); Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS); Melanie Bartels (HAW)