Billabong Pro Tahiti 2005 - WCT

6 May 2005 0 Share

Billabong Pro Tahiti: Melanie Redman-Carr overcame the dangerous conditions at Teahupoo to advance into the Quarter Finals

Billabong Pro Tahiti: Melanie Redman-Carr overcame the dangerous conditions at Teahupoo to advance into the Quarter Finals

The Billabong Pro Tahiti ploughed through three rounds of women’s surfing today in mostly onshore 4-6’+ conditions that were a real test for the ASP Top 17 WCT crew, but the vast majority of the girls rose to the challenge big time. Amidst it all we had three times event champion Keala Kennelly sustaining a major head gash after bouncing off the razor sharp reef, 2004 Rookie of the Year Laurina McGrath having her thigh punctured, and six-times world champion Layne Beachley persevering with a torn medial ligament, but nothing deterred our young ladies of the surf. They were all scared, but they pushed through it.

Hawaii’s renowned charger Keala Kennelly was the day’s first casualty in heat two of round one when she persevered on the inside of every wave she caught, surfing almost to dry reef – and sometimes literally all the way to it, and onto it. Some might go so far as to wonder if she’s a masochist.

“The waves weren’t really doing it outside, no open barrels, and so I was working the inside, but I got smashed by that west bowl and went over and felt my head smash against the reef,” said Keala.

“I was like ‘Damn it!’ I could feel it was pretty bad, pretty deep, but I wanted to win the heat and so I went back out and got a good long deep barrel, and nearly came out, which would have been a high score, but it pinched at the end. It was pinching a lot out there.”

“The doctors cleaned me up and so I was back out there again. I felt kind of dizzy, but I went back out there.”

Kennelly required seven staples to her head wound, but was out amongst the challenging drops and vertical walls of Teahupoo within hours, pressing through her round three heat over Australia’s Samantha Cornish like a woman possessed, and into the quarter finals of the Billabong Pro Tahiti.

Reigning world champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER) was outpointed in the heat after Kennelly’s round one exchange. Pitched against 2004 ASP Rookie of the Year Laurina McGrath, she came off second best, despite the fact that the young Aussie sustained a substantial gash in her right-hand thigh on her very first wave. She caught three waves, all major drops, before Mulanovich or wildcard Sheridan Sheilds managed to stroke into the swell and get on the scoreboard.

“I’m stoked to have won that heat but I’ve sort of got a hole in my leg,” revealed McGrath after her first round win this morning.

“I don’t know whether it was my fin or the reef, but when I got caught on the inside on that first one, I just felt something brush my leg. I didn’t think anything of it, but then when I got back out outside, I could literally see blood just coming from my leg. I looked down and saw a bit of a hole there. Now I’m even on both legs,” said McGrath, talking of the fact that she is already restricted with a stretched medial ligament on her left knee.

Drawn against Australia’s surfing darling Chelsea Georgeson in round three, McGrath had possibly the worst heat possible. Whatever could go wrong for McGrath did just that.

“I’ve been there before, so I was feeling for Laurina being cut up,” said the victorious Georgeson after their exchange.

“Laurina had one of those heats where everything went wrong for her. Her leg was already bugging her, her bandage was coming off, her cut was open, then she snapped her board on the inside, got six waves on the head – so not the best way to start a heat, especially out there at Teahupoo where most things are even harder to deal with.”

The vertical walls, dry reef and sledgehammer power and push of Teahupoo have forever been a major test for the girls. Chelsea Georgeson is one of the few that appears to have surfed beyond the mental boundaries of this threatening arena.

“I’m not too scared out there. It’s my fourth year here now, and every year, once your first heat or second heat are over, you start to get comfortable, and when the conditions are nice it’s actually a fun wave, and you get some pretty good barrels,”

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