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News provided by ASP World Tour on 7 March 2006

Reigning Roxy Pro champion and event wildcard Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) has continued to command proceedings at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, the first event on the 2006 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Women’s World Tour.

Gilmore, who claimed today’s highest wave score and heat total (8.67 out of 10 and 16.34 out of 20 respectively), also halted current world champion Chelsea Georgeson’s (AUS) hopes of winning her first event as the reigning ASP Women’s World Champion on home turf.

“It’s always hard to lose but I’ve got seven more contests to go,” Georgeson said. “It was a good contest, a good warm-up, especially surfing against Steph. She’s one of the best surfers out there right now, and I would put my money on her to win the whole thing.”

Eighteen-year-old Gilmore left Georgeson needing a combination of scores to win the heat held at Duranbah, a beach break 200 meters north of the main event site of Snapper Rocks, but tricky conditions saw the recently married 22-year-old come up short.

“I just wanted to get a few waves under my belt and there weren’t too many waves out there. You really just have to wait for the best ones and Steph was on those best waves, so I’ve just got to deal with it,” Georgeson said.

The contest was forced to relocate to Duranbah after a significant storm took its toll on the sand bar at Snapper Rocks, the primary contest venue.

“Steph and I had that great first round at Snapper and it’s always a bit of a shame when there are such good waves out there and then a storm comes through like that and washes away the bank, but it’s contest surfing and you have to be able to do your best in all conditions.”

Gilmore’s first two waves at the mobile site of Duranbah, both of which fell into the good to excellent category, afforded the regular-footed (left foot forward) surfer a lead that she didn’t relinquish for the remainder of the heat.

“When the event moved to D’Bah my confidence went down a little bit just because I know that this is one of Chels’ favorite waves and she just froths on it out there,” Gilmore said. “I knew she would be tough, so I was stoked to get those two waves and just be out there enjoying myself and having a heat with Chels; she surfs so awesome.”

Gilmore who meets Samantha Cornish (AUS) in quarterfinal two, is confident she can take it all the way again this year:

“Yeah, why not? It sounds pretty good to me.”

Also making an early exit was world number two and former world champion Sofia Mulanovich of Peru. Mulanovich fell to rookie and fellow South American Silvana Lima (BRA) in heat five.

“I really wanted to do well in this contest, but I never do good here, I always lose early, so this is just like every other year,” Mulanovich said.

“It was pretty hard to surf out there and Silvana is such an insane surfer but I’m really tired of losing. I’m fired up and angry with myself so I really want to go back home and train a lot."

Mulanovich, who came into last year's Roxy Pro seeded first as Georgeson is now, knows firsthand how hard it is to come into the first event of the year as world champion and lose to a wildcard. She too bowed out of the Roxy Pro in round three courtesy of Gilmore.

“It’s always tough to have a heat against Steph,” said Mulanovich who can take some consolation in the fact that she’ll walk away from this event with footing equal to Georgeson’s after going head to head in a world title romp with her good friend for most of the year in 2005.

“Chels is the world champion, so for sure she is going to be a contender for another world title but I think there are going to be a lot of contenders this year.”

Last year's runner-up Megan Abubo (HAW) and 2003 Roxy Pro champ Layne Beachley (HAW) also advanced and will go head to head in the quarterfinals.

Sam Cornish, who used last minute heroics to outscore Keala Kennelly in heat three, joins Rochelle Ballard, Trudy Todd and Melanie Redman-Carr to round out the main event winner's circle with only half-a-day's worth of surfing needed to decide the 2006 Roxy Pro champ.

In addition to the main event, the Samsung Expression Session held after the completion of round three rewarded Jacqueline Silva of Brazil $1500 for the best wave and Keala Kennelly (HAW) $1500 for the best maneuver.

Another call on competition status will be made tomorrow morning at 7 am. and will host the live webcast of the entire event. Interviews, replays, special guests and Roxy’s daily "Live at 5" wrap up are all highlights of the webcast.

HEAT 1: Megan Abubo (HAW) 13.50 def. Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 11.00
HEAT 2: Layne Beachley (AUS) 15.66 def. Heather Clark (ZAF) 10.83
HEAT 3: Samantha Cornish (AUS) 12.77 def. Keala Kennelly (HAW) 11.83
HEAT 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.34 def. Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) 7.90
HEAT 5: Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.50 def. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 10.37
HEAT 6: Rochelle Ballard (HAW) 12.20 def. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 10.67
HEAT 7: Trudy Todd (AUS) 10.33 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 6.23
HEAT 8: Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) 14.83 def. Julia Christian (USA) 13.87

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