BELLS BEACH, Victoria - Silvana Lima (BRA), 24, claimed her maiden ASP Women’s World Tour victory, defeating reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion and two-time defending event winner Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 21, to take the Rip Curl Women’s Pro presented by Ford New Fiesta and become the first Brazilian in history ever to win at the iconic venue.
Event No. 2 of 8 on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Rip Curl Women’s Pro culminated today with an action-packed Final that saw both athletes pushing the levels of high-performance surfing. Despite both surfers racking up high scores, it was Lima who would rise to the occasion and ring the bell for her inaugural win.
“This feels amazing,” Lima said. “This is the first World Tour event I’ve ever won and to win it at Bells Beach is like a dream. To be the first winner from Brazil to ring the Bell, it’s amazing. I am so happy. I hope everyone in Brazil stays up and parties big.”
The high-flying Brazilian wasted no time in racking up scores against Gilmore, opening with a 9.17 before backing it up with an 8.17 in the opening minutes of the Final to put her opponent on the ropes.
“Steph (Gilmore) is so good out there in any conditions and I knew I needed to get scores on top of her quickly,” Lima said. “I was able to get really strong waves at the start and my boards felt like they were working really well.”
The win rockets Lima into No. 2 on the ASP Women’s World Tour ratings, once again cementing her position as a legitimate ASP Women’s World Title threat.
“The World Title is always my goal, every year,” Lima said. “Last year was a really good year for me, but I couldn’t win an event. Now that I have a win, my confidence is very high and I look forward to the next event.”
Gilmore was the form surfer of the morning, eliminating Paige Hareb (NZL), 18, in a close Quarterfinal before racking up the highest single-wave score of the event (a 9.60 out of a possible 10) in her Semifinal bout, but was unable to find a rhythm against her South American opponent in the Final.
“Silvana (Lima) finally got me and she was ripping,” Gilmore said. “Her win was well-deserved and I hope it creates a great rivalry for the year ahead.”
Despite her runner-up finish, Gilmore has further established her stranglehold on the ASP Women’s World Tour ratings lead heading into the mid-year break.
“Of course I’m disappointed not to come away with the win but runner-up is still a solid result for me,” Gilmore said. “Bells is one of those places that makes you hungry to come out on top and it would have been amazing to get three in a row. Congratulations to Silvana though and I’ll look ahead to the rest of the year.”
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18, 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie and last year’s ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) No. 1, put is a solid performance at the Rip Curl Women’s Pro, ousting veteran Jacqueline Silva (BRA) and former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, from competition before falling to Gilmore in today’s Semifinal.
“I had an okay start but Steph (Gilmore) really came steaming back with some big scores,” Fitzgibbons said. “There were definitely a few waves I would have loved to have been on, but that’s how our sport goes and the ocean wasn’t in my favor this time around. Last year was a good year for me so I am trying to take confidence from that to find a big result as the year progresses.”
Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 25, former ASP Women’s World Champion, put in another strong performance at Bells Beach, taking down Samantha Cornish (AUS), 28, before falling to eventual winner Lima in the Semifinals.
“It is still a pretty good result and I am happy for that,” Mulanovich said. “I couldn’t do anything out there so it was frustrating. I was a bit nervous and couldn’t really read the waves that well. I was just falling off, getting stuck on my turns and once you do it once, it gets stuck in your head so it is a little bit psychological. I am always stoked to come back here though. I love this wave and I love this place.’
RIP CURL WOMEN’S PRO BELLS BEACH FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Silvana Lima (AUS) 17.34
2 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.06