Stephanie Gilmore

Round 1 of the Rip Curl Women’s Search was completed today in clean-yet-shifty three-to-four foot (1 metre) waves at the backup venue of Belgas.

Event No. 4 of 7 on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Search commenced immediately following the completion of the Rip Curl Pro Search (won by Mick Fanning (AUS), 28) this morning at Supertubos, but event organizers opted to hunt down the best possible conditions on offer at midday, setting on the offshore, punchy peaks of Belgas.

Melanie Bartels (HAW), 27, current ASP Women’s World No. 4, took to reeling Belgas walls with style, punch and bite, securing the highest-scoring wave of the day, an 8.00 out of a possible 10, for blasting a roping left with some sharp hits on her backhand. Her heat total (also the highest of the day) of a 13.17 out of a possible 20 was enough to edge past opponents Samantha Cornish (AUS), 29, and Alana Blanchard (HAW), 19.

"It’s always good to find some place different to surf and to have the Rip Curl Search Pro and you don’t know where it will be, it is really good,” Bartels said. “I’ve been looking forward to this event all year. I am just happy to get a good start on the first day of competition."

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Ben Skinner

High drama in the Maldives today as several ASP World Longboard World Title contenders were knocked out while others advanced through Round 2 of the ASP Oxbow World Longboard Tour event in Maldives, completed in good 1.25 meter (3 to 4 feet) surf.

Defending ASP World Longboard Champion, Bonga Perkins (HAW), saw his title defence disappear as a rampaging Ben Skinner (UK) out-manoeuvred and out-surfed the champ.

“Bonga (Perkins) is a legend of our sport and I have absolute respect for the guy but I went in confident of winning today,” Skinner said. “I have defeated him recently and out here I feel really well suited to this wave so I knew I could do it. With five minutes remaining, Bonga required a 7.25 to defeat me and while I held priority for the next wave I knew Bonga could score a 9 point ride easily, I simply focused on holding my position and making certain if a great wave came I was on it and not Bonga – It was the longest 5 minutes of my life and fortunately I won!”

Current ASP World Longboard Tour ratings’ leader Harley Ingelby kept his 2009 ASP World Longboard Title hopes firmly alive today, taking a solid win over fellow Australian Jared Neal.

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Mick Fanning

Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, former ASP World Champion (2007) and current ASP World No. 1, has claimed the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Search at Supertubos in Portugal, defeating fellow Finalist Bede Durbidge (AUS), 26, and cementing his lead in the now two-horse race for the 2009 ASP World Title.

Event No. 9 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search ran a gamut of conditions and venues ranging from two-foot righthand wedges at Molhe Leste, four-foot offshore lefthanders at Lagido, punchy four-foot peaks at Belgas and death-defying six-to-eight foot barrels at Supertubos yesterday before culminating a dramatic end to competition.

Fanning, who won the inaugural Rip Curl Pro Search at Reunion Island (2005) and was a standout in yesterday’s massive barrels, readjusted to today’s smaller conditions and was dominant in his Final against Durbidge. With conditions deteriorating, Fanning lacerated the punchy wedges on his forehand to net a solid 6.67 and a 6.00 that would prove unbeatable for his opponent.

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