Stephanie Gilmore: smiling for the fourth time

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 22, has claimed her fourth, consecutive ASP Women’s World Title, making history at the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Search Puerto Rico.

With her Quarterfinal win over Melanie Bartels (HAW), 28, Gilmore amassed enough points to knock sole remaining contender, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 19, out of the running for the 2010 ASP Women’s World Title Race.

“I’m really at a loss for words right now,” Gilmore said. “Mel (Bartels) is one of the most dangerous surfers in the world and has had my number on several occasions. Even on that last wave there, I was certain she’d got the score. I was blown away when they called it out and I’m rapt right now.”

The historic occasion marks the first time an athlete has achieved a perfect record in the professional surfing world, with Gilmore claiming the coveted crown in her rookie season and every year since.

“I guess I haven’t really been thinking about that,” Gilmore said. “But to hold a record that Layne (Beachley) or even Kelly (Slater) never got is pretty special. I never thought I would even win two, consecutive titles so to win four is a massive achievement for me.”

In one of her strongest performances to date, Gilmore’s comprehensive and unabated assault on the 2010 ASP Women’s World Tour marks the first time the prodigious natural-footer has clinched the crown before Hawaii.

2010 ASP Women’s World Tour Results:

Roxy Pro Gold Coast:WIN
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach:WIN
TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival New Zealand:Equal 9th
Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic:WIN
Movistar Peru Classic:Equal 3rd
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Portugal:Runner-Up
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Search Puerto Rico:TBD
Gidget Pro Sunset Beach:TBD

Today’s ASP Women’s World Title clinching is the latest in a long list of achievements for the young Australian, which include: ASP Women’s World Tour Rookie of the Year (2007), two-time Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Titles, 15 ASP Women’s World Tour event victories and four, consecutive ASP Women’s World Titles.

“This Title means a lot to me,” Gilmore said. “The girls on tour this year have been the best they’ve ever been and I’ve been pushed in every one of my heats. The younger girls especially have a whole new approach and they’re gaining in confidence in every surf. The future for the sport is going to be excited and I can’t wait for it. But for now, I’m going to celebrate my win. Thanks to everyone for all the support.”

Kelly Slater: Ai, ai, ai, ai, ai, ai Puerto Rico!

Three-to-four foot waves greeted surfers of the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico, in the first day of competition in South America. There have been a few surprises.

Portuguese star Tiago Pires, 30, current ASP World No. 4, caused a big upset this morning, eliminating current ASP World No. 4 Taj Burrow, 32, in the opening round of competition.

The win included the day’s high single wave score of an 8.87 out of a possible 20 for an incredibly deep forehand barrel.

“Luckily, the wave is so fast and perfect so I don’t have to think much. My back heel is pretty painful right now, but hopefully the urchins bring me luck. The wave is really fun. It’s a really high-performance wave with good barrels. The last two contests have been bad for me. I’m very happy to get through my heat and I’ll be able to get some rest now and better familiarize myself with the area.”, Pires said.

For Kelly Slater, everything is doing well. The 9-time world champion surfed pretty relaxed and got over Daniel Ross and Dillon Perillo.

“I actually felt a little jittery out there at the start,” Slater said. “I kind of found my feet towards the end and I feel a lot better now that I’m straight into Round 3. I have a really good support crew here. My girlfriend Kalani, my manager Terry and publicist Shelby are flying in. I flew Mark Cunningham over from Hawaii because he’s never seen me at a contest and I told him he had to come. I’ve seen a bunch of old friends from here and Florida and I have friends coming in from Barbados. I’m really thankful for all the support.”

Slater took his heat with combined total of 16.27 points.

Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, current ASP World No. 2, kept the 2010 ASP World Title race alive, although he think it will be hard to beat Slater.

“At this point for me, it’s all about surfing for me,” Smith said. “He has to lose pretty bad for anything to change at this point so I’m just enjoying things at the moment. It’s an honor to be in the race still and I’m really enjoying Puerto Rico.”

Heat 1:Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.56, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.77, Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.13
Heat 2:Dane Reynolds (USA) 14.83, Taylor Knox (USA) 11.80, Roy Powers (HAW) 8.73
Heat 3:Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.70, Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.40, Luke Munro (AUS) 10.60
Heat 4:Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.10, Gabe Kling (USA) 12.93, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.70
Heat 5:Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.90, Brett Simpson (USA) 12.20, Dylan Graves (PRI) 6.60
Heat 6:Kelly Slater (USA) 16.27, Daniel Ross (AUS) 13.40, Dillon Perillo (USA) 11.80
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.70, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 12.26, Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.14
Heat 8:Owen Wright (AUS) 13.50, Luke Stedman (AUS) 7.37, Andy Irons (HAW) N/S
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.37, Kai Otton (AUS) 10.77, Bobby Martinez (USA) 10.40
Heat 10:Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.50, Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.00, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.67
Heat 11:C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.50, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 13.50, Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.17
Heat 12:Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.83, Adam Melling (AUS) 11.33, Chris Davidson (AUS) 9.03

Heat 1:Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Dillon Graves (USA)
Heat 2:Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Dylan Graves (PRI)
Heat 3:Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 4:Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 5:Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 6:Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 7:Andy Irons (HAW) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 8:Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 9:Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 10:Patrick Gudauskas (USA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 11:Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Tom Whitaker (AUS)
Heat 12:Daniel Ross (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)

Kelly Slater: he dreams of Puerto Rico every night

The stage is set. The waves are waiting. The champagne is chilling in the freezer. It's time for the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search, the ultimate surfing event to be held in Puerto Rico.

And there's one man waiting for so long. His name's Kelly Slater. The North American surfer from Florida might secure his 10th crown in South America, a few thousand miles away from his Cocoa Beach, Florida.

There are four scenarios in the decision table for Kelly Slater:

- If Slater finishes Equal 3rd or better, he clinches the 2010 ASP World Title.
- If Slater finishes Equal 5th or Equal 9th, Smith must win the event to send the ASP World Title Race to Hawaii.
- If Slater finishes Equal 13th or Equal 25th, Smith must finish Equal 3rd or better to send the ASP World Title Race to Hawaii.
- Essentially, if Smith fails to finish higher than Equal 5th, Slater claims the 2010 ASP World Title.

And Jordy Smith knows what's at stake.

“My goal is the same it has been all season - make heats,” Smith said. “The rest is out of my hands.”

The 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico will be a memorable surfing event.

Make sure you don't miss a bit with

Heat 1:Adrian Buchan (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 2:Dane Reynolds (USA), Taylor Knox (USA), Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 3:Taj Burrow (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT), Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 4:Mick Fanning (AUS), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 5:Jordy Smith (ZAF), Brett Simpson (USA), Dylan Graves (PRI)
Heat 6:Kelly Slater (USA), Daniel Ross (AUS), Dillon Perillo (USA)
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 8:Owen Wright (AUS), Andy Irons (HAW), Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Bobby Martinez (USA), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 10:Damien Hobgood (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 11:C.J. Hobgood (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Tom Whitaker (AUS)
Heat 12:Michel Bourez (PYF), Chris Davidson (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS)