US Open of Surfing

The GO211 LIVE featuring the Honda Women’s U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’Neill hit the water this morning in glassy two-to-four (1 metre surf. This Association of Surfing Professionals World Qualifying Series 6-Star event played host to some of surfing’s finest female athletes, with top ASP Women’s World Tour and WQS seeds battling it out for the prized Honda U.S. Open of Surfing title.

Today’s competition witnessed ASP Dream Tour surfers Stephanie Gilmore (Tweed Heads, AUS), Sofia Mulanovich (Lima, PER) and Melanie Bartels (Makaha, HI) dominate the field of international competitors vying for the valuable ASP WQS ratings points towards qualification of the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour.

Gilmore and Mulanovich, both former U.S. Open Champions (2007 and 2006 respectively) looked hungry to tack another U.S. Open title on to their list of accomplishments, while Bartels is working feverishly towards her first victory here at the women’s ASP WQS 6-Star event.

Mulanovich issued the day’s highest single-wave score of a near-perfect 9.87 out of a possible 10 for a combination of big forehand hacks and stylish cutbacks in her Round of 48 heat. "There’s a couple of corners on the rights and the surf is really fun and rippable," Mulanovich said.

The former ASP Women’s World Champion will look to further hone her competitive skills at the Honda U.S. Open prior to traveling to France to compete in the upcoming ASP Women’s World Tour event, the Rip Curl Pro Mademoiselle, held in Hossegor from August 28-x, 2008.

"The U.S. Open is a great warm up for France, because France is a beachbreak like here," Mulanovich said. "I’m stoked to be back here at the U.S. Open and I’m hoping to just do the best that I can."

Gilmore, reigning ASP Women’s World Champion and current No. 2 on the ASP Women’s World Tour, proved to be excellent form today, confidently moving through both of her heats by distributing one of the day’s highest single wave scores of a 9.50 out of 10, as well as the second highest heat total of 17.87 out of a possible 20 in the Round of 48.

"Conditions are better out there today with a bit more tide coming in," Gilmore said. "I didn’t really have a game plan out there. I just wanted to go out and pick off a couple of righthanders, and I managed to do that by the pier and luckily the current has stopped a bit."

Gilmore’s standout surfing today was indicative of the consistent caliber of performances the young natural-footer has logged in the past two years and she’s looking solid to defend her Honda U.S. Open of Surfing Title.

"I guess it’s a pretty stressful feeling of having to perform, but I’m amped to be here," Gilmore said. "My friends are here and the waves are here as well. All of the competitors for the ASP Women’s World Tour are here and we’ve had such a long break since Bells. I almost feel like I’ve forgotten what a competition was, so it’s good to come here and shake off the holiday mode before the next event,"

Melanie Bartels was one to watch in today’s event as well, posting a single wave score of 9.33 out of possible 10 points in her Round 2 victory, proving she is in contest shape after a long break.

"I just got that little right off of the pier and I just tried to hit it as many times as I could," Bartels said. "We haven’t had an event in a long time, and this is a great contest to get us in the groove again after the break."

Coco Ho (North Shore, HI), one of the finalists in the ASP Grade-2 S3 Supergirl Pro Junior, put in an exceptional performance today, fighting her way through three rounds of competition. The prodigious Hawaiian earned one of the day’s highest single wave scores of a 9.33 out of possible 10 in her Round 2 heat.

"That was definitely one of the hardest heats I’ve ever had," Ho said. "I’m just really luck that I got the better waves of every situation and I wasn’t even comfortable with the big lead that I had because of the big names in my heat, so I definitely wasn’t comfortable but as time wound down I was stoked."

Source: ASP World Tour