Stephie flies through trials and tribulations
KINGSCLIFF'S Stephanie Gilmore endured a day of trials and tribulations to progress through to round three of the inaugural Beachley Classic at Manly yesterday.
Gilmore showed her determination to win through the gruelling trials event and then go straight into the main event, named in honour of six-times women's world champion Layne Beachley.
The trials, which boasted one of the toughest fields ever on the circuit, forced Gilmore to show the form that saw her beat Beachley in the final of the Roxy Pro at Snapper Rocks in 2005.
However there was little rest for the Kingscliff surfer as she was then drawn in round one against current world tour leader Melanie Redman-Carr and Hawaiian Keala Kennelly.
Despite the obvious physical strain on her, Gilmore did enough to come second behind Redman-Carr in her heat and progress through to round three yesterday.
Beachley showed none of the pressure that might come from surfing in an event named after you when she registered the equal highest score of the day, an 18.15 at her home break with a near perfect 9.65 ride and an 8.50 to advance directly to round three.
"I guess local knowledge paid off in that heat," Beachley said.
Despite her strong performance, the stress of organising the event may be taking its toll.
"I'm completely exhausted," the 34-year-old admitted.
"I've got some kind of bronchial infection now.
"I've really stretched myself trying to get this event off the ground along with the very small team of people that have worked on it, but I am really proud of it."
Tweed Heads' defending world champion Chelsea Georgeson bounced back from a round one scare to also post an 18.15 and progress.
The 22-year-old defeated Coolangatta's Trudy Todd and caused the elimination of Hawaii's Rochelle Ballard from the event.
West Australian Redman-Carr narrowly leads the world title race from Beachley and Georgeson going into this event, the third last of the year.
Beachley said winning the Classic was crucial to her hopes of an unprecedented seventh world title, because the last two events on the tour are in Hawaii where Redman-Carr and Georgeson have dominated in the past.
The event, the sixth of eight stops on the Women's ASP World Tour, features the world's top 17 female surfers and one wildcard.
It runs till Sunday with extra events, including expression sessions, giant thong surfing and dodge ball held on non-event days.