2004 ASP World Champion : photo ASPWorldtour/Karen
2004 ASP and ISA Womens World Champion
Sofia Mulanovich is the new ASP World Champion and the next Queen of Surfing
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 22 November 2004: - - Peruvian Sofia Mulanovich, 21, made professional surfing history on Saturday 20th November, by becoming the first South American, man or woman, to claim the Association of Surfing Professionals (A.S.P.) World Championship Tour (W.C.T.) crown.
Mulanovich needed to place third or better in the Roxy Pro at Haleiwa, Hawaii, to put the 2004 world title result beyond the reach of her W.C.T. rivals. She finished second behind six time World Champion Layne Beachley, and secured her place in surfing and sporting history
In a fusion of past, present, and future, Mulanovich celebrated the moment of her life with the blessing of Roxy Team Manager and 4-time world champion Lisa Andersen as well as outgoing champ Beachley, collectively representing a total of 11 world surfing titles.
Sofia Mulanovich World Champion
"When I was a little kid I used to dream about this," said Mulanovich. "A couple of years ago I didn't think I'd be able to win a world title. I wasn't that confident. But this year helped my self-confidence." Mulanovich has dominated the 2004 season since the get-go, reaching four of the six W.C.T. event finals held to date, winning three of them. One event remains following the Roxy Pro, the Billabong Pro on Maui, starting December 7.
"I've done this for my country and for all South Americans," continued Mulanovich. "Just to make a change and give them hope. If you really want something, you'll get it. My goal was to be world champion today. In the final, my thinking was that I just had to beat one person, but half way through I started thinking I might be able to do better than that. For the future? I don't know. I'm just stoked I'm the world champion this year."
So how did Sofia get to the top of the ASP ratings, and secure her new position as Queen of Surfing ?
2004 WCT Event #1; Roxy Pro Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Held between 2nd and 14th March Sofia had a slow start to the year placing equal 9th after narrowly loosing out in Round Three to Jaqueline Silva from Brasil. Silva in fact went on to win this first WCT event of the season, whilst Rochell Ballard from Hawaii placed second.
Sofia Mulanovich Roxy Pro Australia : photo ASPWorldtour/Robertson
2004 WCT Event #2; Roxy Pro, Tavarua/Namotu Islands, Fiji.
Held between 18th and 24th April Sofia won the fourth annual Roxy Pro in perfect conditions. The 35-minute final against Hawaiian Rochelle Ballard proved the best heat of the entire tournament, as both contestants posted huge scores with incredible surfing. Mulanovichs opening ride secured her piece of history though, as the diminutive natural footer waited for one of the larger set waves and unleashed an inspired backhand attack for the Roxy Pros only perfect 10-point score.
Riding the success of her recent ISA world title in Ecuador just two weeks previously, the 20-year-old then locked in another 7.75 to create a commanding lead. This Fiji result marked her first WCT win and moved her into third position on the ASP ratings. Im in the clouds right now, began Mulanovich, after being congratulated by fellow competitors and friends in the lineup. Everything here is so beautiful and perfect, and I cant imagine being happier.
Queen of the Roxy Pro in Fiji 2004 : photo ASPWorldtyour/Tostee
It was great surfing against Roachie, she added, of her roommate on Tavarua. Weve been talking about how it would be if we both made the final, and it happened. I knew my first wave was a good one, but I had to do everything I could to win the final. It felt really good when they said it was a 10-point ride, but I was still really nervous, as I knew she could get one also. I just had to take advantage of the situation, and thank God another wave came for me. After watching most of my friends like Chelsea (Georgeson) and Sam (Cornish) get wins, I was so determined. Finally I got it and it feels insane.
Ballard, who posted a near-perfect 9.75 backhand tube ride earlier in the morning, as well as the highest combined tally of the tournament for 18.5-points, was clearly in form. Im really excited, said Ballard, of the ratings. It feels weird to be in the first two finals in a row and not win, but its actually just making me hungrier. Im really stoked for her, she added, in praise of Mulanovich. That first win is so insane".
Sofia on fire in Fiji : photo ASPWorldtyour/Tostee
2004 WCT Event #3; Billabong Pro, Teahupoo, Taiarapu, Tahiti.
Held between 6th and 16th May Sofia secured consecutive victories by winning the Billabong Pro Teahupoo over Rochelle Ballard. Against Ballard for the second consecutive final in as many weeks, Mulanovich trailed for the first half before locking in a huge 9.23 score - the second best of the entire tournament. Combined with her earlier 5.0 she took control, if only marginally, but managed to keep it for the remaining 10-minutes.
I dont believe it, began Mulanovich, after doing a lap of honor through the lineup on a jet ski. Im feeling too good, like its not real. I feel way more confident about everything now. Its been a great week and was a great final to win. Im so stoked I made it; Im overwhelmed.
I knew Roachie was winning, but then a wave came from nowhere, she explained. I didnt do safe maneuvers, but just went for it. Today was pretty small out there, so it wasnt really scary and I think thats why I won (laughs). I love lefts like this, so thank God conditions were favorable to me.
Sofia Queen of Billabong Pro : photo ASPWorldtour/Tostee
I feel more relaxed in every heat now and thats what is helping me, she continued. Ive always wanted to be world champion since I was a kid, and yeah, its a good chance now. Im just going to try my best and am have fun everyday on tour.
For Ballard, the result amazingly marked three consecutive runner-up finishes this season. Having already reached two finals at Teahupoo previously (2001 & 03), many believed she was destined for her first victory at both the venue and for the year. A confident 7.83 ride proved her best however, and the 33-year-old was searching for another worth 6.41 during the latter part of the decider. Nonetheless, she retained pole position on the ratings heading into the next WCT in France.
Im actually really stoked to have three finals in a row, began an emotional Ballard. Im just a little disappointed in not winning. I know I have a great chance of winning (the world title). This is my year and Im really excited about it.
Sofia powering in Tahiti : photo ASPWorldtour/Tostee
The waves just werent there today, she added. Im really happy for Sofia. Im stoked on this contest and am going to win it one year. Forget the three times a charm - four times a charm (laughs).
2004 WCT Event #4; Roxy Pro, Anglet France.
Held between 23rd and 30th May Sofia defeated world #2 Keala Kennelly of Hawaii to win the Roxy Pro France in six-to-eight foot (2-2.5m) surf at La Madrague beach. Mulanovichs win was her third straight World Championship Tour victory and marks her as the undisputed favorite for this years Association of Surfing Professionals womens world title.
Mulanovich battled thunderous seas to defeat the big-name Hawaiian, riding only two scoring waves in 30 minutes. Giant sets washed both surfers from their positions at the beginning of the final and then prevented them from returning to the lineup until the half way mark. Mulanovich eventually secured her first ride, a washed-out lefthander that enabled her to perform a series of cutbacks, with just 11 minutes remaining.
Sofia claims a 3rd victory : photo ASPWorldtour/Karen
Her second score was locked in with barely 90 seconds remaining and her combined two-wave heat total was enough to outpoint Kennelly 7.60 to 3.80. I am so happy, this is like a dream right now, explained Mulanovich. I just cant believe it. In my quarters and semis I had good surfs and really enjoyed myself but then in the final, I was looking at all these waves going, (she holds her hands up exasperated) Okay, just try and kill me one more time! I got so many sets on the head it was ridiculous. Keala too, there was nothing we could do.
The WCT hat trick saw the 2003 world #7 join an illustrious group of former world champions. Defending ASP world champion Layne Beachley (Aus) last achieved the feat in 1998 when she won the Sunsmart Classic Bells Beach, the Diet Coke Classic Manly and the Tokushima Pro Japan to set up the first of her six consecutive world titles
2004 WCT Event #5; Rip Curl Malibu Pro, Malibu, California, USA.
Held between 2nd and 10th October Sofia had the chance at Malibu to become the first woman surfer in 26 years of professional surfing to claim four successive WCT event wins, but that wasn't to be. She was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Maria Tita Tavares of Brazil who subsequently finished runner-up to event winner Megan Abubo.
Sofia's victories in the previous three WCT events this year meant she has joined an elite group populated only by former world champions Margo Oberg, Freida Zamba, Wendy Botha, Pauline Menczer and Layne Beachley.
Sofia eliminated in the quarters : photo ASPWorldtour/Karen
2004 ISA World Surfing Games Salinas, Ecuador.
Held between the 19th and 28th March 2004 the womens surfing final was clear cut as Mulanovich, the world #7, earned the highest score of the final on her first ride and her lead was never seriously threatened after she received 7.33 for her third ride. Julia Christian of USA took second place.
And so this brief resume is a record of Sofia Mulanovich's sensational year that has seen her win two World Titles, and make history bringing those titles to a South American country.
More information on Sofia at www.roxy.com
Report compiled by O'Board's Surfing News
World Champions - WahineSurfing