Gilmore the one to beat

TWO-time women's world champion Stephanie Gilmore has shown in the opening rounds of the Commonwealth Beachley Classic that despite a six-month break from competing she has not lost her winning momentum.

Gilmore disposed of last year's winner Tyler Wright (Lennox Head) and friend and former world champ Chelsea Hedges despite the onshore waves at Manly Beach.

“The waves were not world-class,” said Gilmore, who has been on a world surfing trip in the break from the tour.

“The sun was out and the waves were contestable and I had some fun, but I would prefer it if the swell comes up for Dee Why Point!” said Happy Gilmore.

  • IN other good news for the ASP Women's World Tour, a new event in New Zealand will be included in Taranki for the 2010 season.

Gold Coast pro juniors through to the round of 32 in the final pro junior event of the Australasian Tour, the Billabong Pro Junior at Jan Juc include Snapper's Eli Jacobs, James Woods, Kirra's Jack Freestone and Currumbin's Mitch Crews.

Jacobs, from Tugun, takes on North Straddie's Tim McDonald, Coolum's Noah Lane and NSW surfer Perth Standlick.

  • LIGHTNING strikes twice they say, especially from the “White Knight” Mick Fanning.

With two consecutive wins under his belt, he is now a serious threat to Joel Parkinson's title race with only 168 points separating the Coolangatta challengers.

“It's game back on, just when everyone thought that Joel would run away with it (world title),” said a pumped Fanning.

There are now three events to decide the ASP World Title, the Billabong Pro at Mundaka, Spain, the Rip Curl Search at Peniche, Portugal and the Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters in Hawaii.

  • NOW that the world title is so close, it could come right down to the wire meaning a Hawaiian Pipeline showdown is imminent.

The last time Pipe decided the number one in surfing was when Andy Irons won in 2004, just beating Kelly Slater to the punch.

While Mick and Joel have made finals at Pipe, either one has yet to win there and more importantly have yet to win at Spain's Mundaka, the next WCT event in two weeks time for the Billabong Pro.

Past winner include Occy, Luke Egan and Bobby Martinez, however if Mick Fanning goes one round better than Joel in the next event, Mick will take the ratings lead with two events to go.

Where does this leave Kelly Slater, who is chasing a 10th world title? Kelly has one win under his belt and would need to win the next three events, not an impossibility for the world's greatest-ever surfer, but time is running out.

I'm still tipping Joel for the world title, but either way Gold Coast can be so proud of the Cooly boys.

And not to leave out Bede Durbidge, the quiet unassuming gentleman from North Stradbroke Island, based at Currumbin, who finished second.

  • SURFING environmentalist and activist Dave “Rasta” Rastovich has embarked on a highly ambitious and courageous protest over the killing of marine life and ocean pollution by paddling with whales from Byron to Bondi.

Rasta has been joined by his Tweed shaper Gary McNeil.

Rasta's paddling mission set sail from Byron Bay yesterday for the 700km journey which is expected to take 36 days and is named the “Trans-parent-sea” tour.

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