In a massive boost for women’s surfing, both Nikita Robb and Rosanne Hodge have qualified for the 2010 ASP Women’s World Tour, giving South Africa two representatives at the highest level of women’s competition surfing for the first time since the two-tier system was introduced in 1992.
Hodge, 22, qualified for her fourth consecutive year on the Dream Tour, when she finished No. 10 on the year-end ASP Women’s World Tour rankings after the completion of the Billabong Pro Maui in Hawaii yesterday. The East Londoner, ranked No. 9 going into the final event, spent an anxious 24 hours awaiting the outcome when she was eliminated in Round 3.
Rebecca Woods (AUS) overtook her in the ratings by advancing to the quarterfinals, but the balance of the lower-ranked opponents were eliminated, and Hodge clinched the last automatic re-qualification spot, and a place amongst the world’s best competitive female surfers for yet another year.
Robb, 20, also from East London, has been waiting for confirmation of her spot among the elite of women’s surfing since the final event on the 2009 ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) in Rio de Janeiro in October. A fifth place in that event saw her jump to No. 9 on the year-end WQS rankings, where the top six qualify for the top-tier World Tour.
However, three of the girls ranked in the WQS top six were also competing on the World Tour and could double-qualify if they stayed in the top 10 on the Dream Tour, with their WQS spots then going to the girls ranked Nos. 7, 8 and 9. Coco Ho (HAW) and Paige Hareb (NZL) were comfortably placed on the World Tour rankings, and Robb’s fate lay in the performance of Rebecca Woods (AUS) in the final event.
Robb’s heart must have sunk into her heels when Woods was relegated to a cutthroat, sudden-death Round 2 heat, after placing third in her opening match-up in Maui, and even more so when Woods appeared to be struggling in the Round 2 encounter.
But Woods rallied and snatched second place by a miniscule 0.20 of a point, and then went on to defeat former ASP World Champion Chelsea Hedges (AUS) in Round 3, cementing her No. 9 ranking, and enabling Robb to take her place in the highest flight in 2010.
“I couldn’t be more stoked,” Robb said of her qualification. “I’ve had a really long time thinking about what will happen if I qualify or if I didn’t, but you can never really comprehend the happiness of when you get that phone call saying; ‘Well done, you have just qualified for the 2010 WCT’.”
“Where too from here? Preparation, getting good boards, training, and last but not least, enjoying surfing and living my dream! It’s funny, at the start of the year I was working in gardens trying to get enough money to follow the WQS.
“Now, at the end of the year, I’ve achieved something I’ve wanted for so long. So I guess I’m really excited about next year and I have a feeling 2010 is going to be a good year for me,” said Robb.
Robb becomes only the third South African female surfer to reach the highest echelons of the women’s world surfing after Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) and good friend and fellow East Londoner, Rosanne Hodge. Next year will be her first outside the Pro Junior (U20) ranks where she secured a number of international event victories and accolades and a string of national titles.