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Surfing - 05. April 2008.


REIGNING world champion Stephanie Gilmore is continuing to dominate the field at the 6-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) Midori Pro at Merewether Beach in Newcastle.

Gilmore has won each of her heats and will surf in tomorrow's quarter-finals, where she will meet three time trophy winner at Newcastle, Rebecca Woods from the New South Wales Central Coast.

Gilmore's domination of the surf continued in both the round of 24 and the round of 12.

In the round of 12, she posted a 14.33, edging out Hawaiian Megan Abubo and cementing her place in tomorrow's quarter-finals.

Gilmore has been surfing a left-hander at Merewether the past few days where she is giving her backside attack and fellow competitors a real hammering.

WQS ratings leader Sally Fitzgibbons from Gerroa on the New South Wales South Coast is another one to watch at Merewether, where she easily accounted for opponents in the clean one metre left-handers made smooth by offshore winds.

Seventeen-year-old Fitzgibbons, who has only just received her driver's license after her win at the Central Coast Pro a fortnight ago, said she was not prepared to speculate on what might happen if she ends up meeting Gilmore in tomorrow's Midori Pro final set down for just before 2pm.

"It really is just one heat at a time –there is no point in speculating what might happen tomorrow," said Fitzgibbons.

"It was kind of tough out there and the mid-tide made the choice of whether to surf the reef or the beach break even tougher," she said.

"But it ended up pumping a lot of waves for our heat out there and a few of them went all the way inside, so I was stoked with the left-handers," said Fitzgibbons.

Fitzgibbons was a standout performer in this morning's action, blitzing her heat in the round of 24 with a total of 15.84, more than five points clear of second place-getter, South African Rosanne Hodge.

Other big name defeats in the women's event today included Australian duo Amee Donohoe and Laurina McGrath.

Brazilian Jacqueline Silva was also bundled out of the competition.

Others still in contention for the title, the $US35,000 prize and valuable early season points towards qualifying for the elite women's tour, include Hawaiian pairing Megan Abubo and Alana Blanchard as well as South Africa's Rosanne Hodge.

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