Aritz Aranburu

Round 1 of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Event No. 10 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, commenced today in clean six-to-ten foot (2 – 3 metre) waves at the Banzai Pipeline.

The third and final event in the Vans Triple Crown (an ASP Specialty Series), the Billabong Pipeline Masters plays host to two dramatic story arcs: the showdown for the 2009 ASP World Title and the requalification race for the 2010 ASP Dream Tour. Amidst the world’s best surfers exists a spattering of Pipeline specialists, making the competition field particularly challenging to navigate.

Michael Picon (FRA), 30, current ASP World No. 39, is in need of an impressive result in the final event of the year to secure his position amongst the world’s elite in 2010. Today, the Frenchman put the rest of the draw on notice, first eliminating wildcard Manoa Drollet (PYF) before posting the highest heat total of the event, a 19.76 out of a possible 20, for a brilliant backhand tube-riding approach to take out Josh Kerr (AUS), 25, in the final heat of the day.

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Lee-Ann Curren

Lee-Ann Curren (Anglet, FRA), 20, has officially qualified for the 2010 ASP Women’s World Tour and becomes the third French and European surfer ever to enter women’s surfing elite, following Marie-Pierre Abgral (Hossegor, FRA) in 2002 and Caroline Sarran (Capbreton, FRA) in 2007.

With the final event of this year’s ASP Women’s World Tour wrapping-up in exceptional surf yesterday, the official list of elite members was officially released naming Curren in No. 14 as a member of next year’s full-time touring contingent.

Curren, who had to wait until the end of the Gidget Pro Sunset Beach to get the confirmation of her 2010 elite inception, will compete against the world’s best female surfers in 2010 including reigning three-time ASP Women’s World Champion and freshly crowned 2009 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore (Gold Coast, AUS).

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Stephanie Gilmore

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 21, took out the final stop on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour today, the Billabong Pro Maui, in clean four-to-six foot (1.5 metre) conditions at the iconic pointbreak of Honolua Bay over Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 26, clinching her third consecutive Billabong Pro Maui title after three years of competition at the premier event. Gilmore wrapped up her dominating season amongst the Top 17 by claiming her second consecutive Vans Triple Crown title today as well.

Gilmore capped the year off in appropriate form after claiming her third ASP Women’s World Title at the Gidget Pro Sunset Beach, when she advanced over Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18, in the Semifinals, en route to defending her flawless record at the Billabong Pro Maui while claiming the prized Hawaiian specialty series and the beefed up $25,000 prize purse supplied by Vans.

“Once again, Maui has just been incredible and to win this event three times in a row is just awesome,” Gilmore said. “I couldn’t have been happier with the way things have gone today. Winning the Vans Triple Crown is definitely up there with winning the World Title and it’s definitely one of the biggest accolades of surfing professionally. I can’t believe it’s all happening again, it’s awesome.”

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