Wikimedia/Sachi Gahan

Queen Steph rules, Slater sidelined

STEPHANIE Gilmore, the Surfing Queen of Kingscliff, has started 2009 where she left off in '08, in number one spot after claiming her second Roxy Pro at Snapper Rocks.

Steph won her first WCT event at Snapper as a wildcard in '05, but stumbled in the following years, beaten by Hawaiian whiz kid Carissa Moore in '06, Chelsea Hedges in '07 and Sam Cornish last year.

Steph, turning 21 this year, possesses a natural, stylish yet powerful approach, like a female Parko, and this opening win will set her up for a third world title on the trot.

The next event is her sponsors' Rip Curl Easter Pro at Bells Beach.

Despite the colder weather down in Viccy, Steph doesn't mind.

“I love pulling on the warmer clothes and the atmosphere is great, plus the surf at Bells can be a lot of fun,” she said.

Steph has rung the famous Bells trophy twice already and will now be aiming for a trifecta while building her momentum for world title number three.

Well done, and good luck you good thing!

PERHAPS “King” Kelly Slater paid the price for gambling on his own board shaping, after the nine times men's world champ was unceremoniously eliminated by Aussie whiz kid Julian Wilson in round three of the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper.

This time last year, Slater was in denial for a world title mission and it was his laid back, carefree approach that seemed to steer him to three wins in a row, at Snapper, Bells and Tavarua, wrapping up the '08 title race by May.

At 38, Slater is now trying to defy all the odds. Maybe father time is catching up?

Any WCT pro can afford two bad results and it's too early yet to write off Kelly.

But his exit at Snapper has left the door open for Aussie contenders Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Bede Durbidge, and pro surfing's two latest wunderkinds, Californian Dane Reynolds and South African Jordy Smith.

One thing's for sure - the 2009 ratings leader after the first WCT event is not Kelly.

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