The Melanie Bartels Story

Interview with Melanie, sponsor Hawaiian Princess Kawaananakoa & competition update

Hawaiian Princess Supports ASP Women’s World Tour Surfer Melanie Bartels to make a huge statement and win’s 2nd place in the 2009 Roxy Pro at Snappers Rocks, Australia.

Going back to last year, WCT professional pro surfer Melanie Bartels was having a struggle financially to make the events. In fact Ms. Bartels only was able to attend six events out of eight due to Ms. Bartels major sponsor dropping her, other WCT and WQS surfers at the end of 2007. The surfing sponsors were starting to prepare for what would hit many businesses to come, as they felt the financial bumps.

In an interview with Melanie a month before the start of the ASP WCT tour beginning in late January, I was able to sit down with Melanie on the West side of Oahu and have a chat.

EMERSON — Melanie how did Princess Abigail Kawananakoa hear you needed a sponsor and financial help for the 2009 WCT tour?

MS. BARTELS — After my first heat at Haleiwa six star WQS event I was interviewed by the Honolulu Advertiser and Dayton asked me about my year and I explained to him it was a hard struggle to make the events without a sponsor. “So I said, Oprah if you are listening I need help.”

Melanie riding a long board @ Makaha

Melanie riding a long board @ Makaha

The Princess Abigail Kawananakoa read the story and contacted Buff, Brian, Uncle Ants and Kaipo. They all put a good word in for me. There was a meeting set up for my Mom, Paka and myself to meet the Princess Kawananakoa. I was really inspired after our meeting the Princess, The Hawaiian Oprah. Princess Kawananakoa helps out many Hawaiians and I have been blessed and very lucky to be picked to be sponsored so I attend all the WCT events this year.

Princess Kawananakoa asked for me to update her and doesn’t ask for anything back from my sponsorship… The Princess really cares about the Hawaiian people.

EMERSON — How does it feel to be sponsored by the Hawaiian Princess?

MS. BARTELS — This gives me that confidence and hope to never give up and believe in myself that I can bring the Women’s World title back to Hawaii. in 2009.

EMERSON — How long has it been since a woman from Hawaii won the World Title?

MS. BARTELS — It was in 1981 when Margo Oberg won. I would like to win and be the first women’s world champion with Hawaiian lineage.

EMERSON — Do you have a game plan Melanie?

Is Melanie free surfing Cabartia

Is Melanie free surfing Cabartia

MS. BARTELS — Yes!, I am so grateful…I am going to train very hard and visualize myself with that world title and coming home to Hawaii with the world title. I would like to make history by being the 1st true professional Hawaiian women’s world champion.

I am just going to work the hardest I ever have in my life to make the Princess happy and make Hawaii proud of me. It means a lot to me to bring the championship back home to Hawaii. Surfing is an ancient Hawaiian sport and there hasn’t been a Hawaiian women’s champion for over 25 + years. I think it would be great for the people from Hawaii and my fans around the world.

EMERSON — What type of training are you going to do outside of surfing?

MS. BARTELS — I am strengthening my body by taking myself to the fitness centre on the West side of Oahu “Westside Fitness”, and running, jumping rope, tennis and swimming. I’m also trying to eat right and eating a lot of fruits and salads and force myself to drink lots of water. And to stay away from to sugar.

I also want to get more in tune to my Hawaiian culture and learn the depth of what Hawaii was like back in the old days.

Princess Kawaananakoa would be Queen of Hawaii

Just a footnote to those who don’t know. If Queen Liliuokalani who was the Hawaiian sovereignty and Queen of Hawaii at the time when the United States stole and Annexed Hawaii from Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian people.

And if Hawaii had remained a sovereign nation, Princess Kawaananakoa, who is Queen Liliuokalani’s niece would be next in line in the Royal Family and the Queen of Hawaii today. The princess is heir to the Campbell Estate—the largest and wealthiest landowner in Hawaii today.

preparation for the title

Melanie Bartels after winning

Melanie Bartels is from the beautiful West side of Oahu. Melanie has taken a round house cut back to a new mind set, fresh thought pattern and approach to the 2009 ASP WCT World Surfing Tour. Ms. Bartels has her focus set on keeping her mind strong in all her events and staying on track in each heat she takes on.

Melanie arrived late on Feb. 24th on the Gold Coast to prepare her game plan early. The next day Melanie and I were out in the line up preparing at Burleigh Heads in totally uncrowded conditions, throwing big air’s and smacking some big chucks of water. Each day we would get some fun uncrowded conditions to focus on Melanie’s approach for the upcoming Roxy Pro to take place at Snapper Rocks and Dbar between February 28th –March 8th.

Roxy Pro at Snapper Rocks and Dbar – Feb 28th –Mar 8th

By Monday March 2nd the ASP was running the women out at Dbar in pretty small beautiful conditions, off shore winds, but some heats were very inconsistent for the girls. The first roundwas on with two Australian’s Samantha Cornish in great form, but looking a bit nervous. Then there was Jessi Miley-Dyer who was totally stoked and ready. But one of the new rookie’s from New Zealand Paige Hareb surfed very well took the heat with a 15.06, Sammy 2nd 12.10 and Jessi rounding out the heat with a 11.50.

Melanie Bartels Hawaii's top Pro surfer coached by Nancy

Melanie Bartels Hawaii’s top Pro surfer coached by Nancy

The second heat went to the Rookie from the island of Kauai in Hawaii, Alan Blanchard with a 15.34, Amee Donohoe from Australia, who looked off for her standards seemed a bit nervous and came in 2nd with a 12.17 and Brazil’s Jacqueline Silva 9.56.

The third round had Australia’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore who surfed well and won the heat with a 14.17, South Africa’s rookie Rosey Hodge was in stylish form and was totally focused with a second and 12.03. And Cabarita’s rookie and Roxy trails winner Ashleigh Smith pulled a 3rd with 11.97.

Whoa! The forth heat was amazing, with another Australian rookie Sally Fitzgibbons just ripping and coming in 1st.. But Silvana Lima from Brazil, was so amazing and doing what she does best, surfing brilliantly. The juges gave Silvana a 10 for one of her rides who received 2nd. Hawaii’s Megan Abudo was in top shape, but was having a hard time finding the right waves and the judges gave her a 6.53.

Chelsea Hedges from Australia once world champion and just returning to the world tour after having a beautiful baby girl just surfed on top her game and made some fantastic moves, which made the waves look a lot better and came in 1st place with 14.60. It was very close against Hawaiian Coco Ho who just showed what the girls would need to watch out for in the future events and came in 2nd with a 14.26. And another World Champion from Peru Sofia Mulanovich was just not getting the waves she needed and came in the a 9.16 and would have to go through the second round.

Melanie Bartels

Melanie Bartels relaxing

The sixth heat of the first round was very close call with another rookie from Brazil Bruna Schmitz taking on Hawaii’s Melanie Bartels who was throwing big chunks. But, Bruna got in a paddle battle, which was very surprising, not showing to much respect for Melanie, when there was so many waves in a wide area to surf in. Also, Aussie Rebecca Woods was riding some great waves as well. Bruna 1st. 15.00, Bartels 2nd 14.34 and Woods 3rd with a 14.23.

They went ahead and ran the Women’s second round and Sofia and Megan surfed unreal and won their respective heats with Jacqueline and Woodsy also advancing to the third round.

The Women had three lay days. The second lay day Melanie, Pake our photographer from on the West side of Oahu, Hawaii and I went out at Snapper’s. It was on shore winds and no one was really around., so it was a practice session for Melanie to play and feel more at home in Hawaii, by jumping on my new 9’2”Glen Minami pintail longboard and had a blast..

ASP meeting

Later that day we watch a really cool film and then attended and ASP meeting for the Pro Women in the afternoon. The meeting was headed up by Jessi Miley-Dryer who volunteered to represent the women and was asked by the ASP Directors for the women to take a look at a new formate that would bring in more women to the WCT tour, but ultimately go backwards in prise money for the women. Most of the top 17 were there and when they voted it was very clear the women did not want to go backwards in prize money.

Despite the fact that the travel requirements necessary for success in the men’s and women’s tours are essentially equivalent, there remains a significant disparity in the remuneration provided to these two groups of athletes. The minimum purse for the men’s premier tour dwarfs that of the women’s tour by a factor of more than 4 to 1: $380,000 to $90,000. This kind of disparity is similar to that seen in other professional sports, except for the leadership provided by professional tennis.


On the third day day we took a ride down south of the boarder into upper New South Wales and checked out Kingscliff, Salt, Casserina and ended up going out at a beautiful Cabarita. My mates Jules and Bugs were out on their SUP’s and I went to say Hi! , But before long the guys on the headland were yelling for us to get out of the ocean, as they had spotted a 12’ shark swimming after a Mana Ray. After we came up the headland and watched just a few minutes and didn’t see the shark any longer, Melanie asked me if I would go back out with her, I said Yeah! No worries lets go its beautiful waves and good for you to train on. We had a really fun session with Amee Donohoe and Serena Brooks who paddled out later and joined us in some sunny glassy waves.

On Friday morning March 6th I looked out at 4:45 AM from my Palm Beach. Beachfront home I was renting and with the huge high tide, I was Oh My! The swell had backed off and I thought well they will run the ladies at Dbar today, which is just over the boarder in New South Wales just south from Snapper Rocks.

Continuation at Dbar

Melanie was in a very good spirits, in a positive mood and stoked to start the third round. In Melanie’s 3rd round heat she had stylish young rookie Rosy Hodge from South Africa in her heat. They both put on a an excellent show for the crowd, Rosey had some really nice waves, but couldn’t reach Melanie’s deep and radical moves to put Ms. Bartels winning 15.40 to Rosey’s 12.86 and moving into the quarter finals where she would meet Sofia Mulanovich from Peru next.

The other third round heats went down as follows:

  • Rookie Paige Hareb beat Amee Donohoe 15.17 to 11.34 –
  • Bruna Schmitz just beat Sammy Cornish by a very narrow margin, 13.50 to 13.43. To bad for Sammy, as she had been training hard for the event. But fresh new blood one needs to be on their heals mentally as well.
  • Chelsea Hedges riped it up back side to win over Jacqueline Silva 14.00 to 11.90.
  • Megan Abudo surfed her best and had some nice waves , but just couldn’t over come World Champ Stephanie Gilmore, 8.40 to 16.83. who was just killing it.

Heat five was one of the heats of the day you didn’t want to miss as, it had some excellent surfing from Coco Ho who beat Silvana Lima in a very close heat 15.33 to 15.00. It was some exciting and very top of their game surfing from both gals, but Coco Ho would move into the quarter finals up against Rebecca Woods.

Woodsy took out 2008 WQS champion Sally Fitzgibbons 13.50 to 11.50 and Sofia beat Alana 11.83 to 6.70 in heat eight of round three.

  • The first quarter final heat saw two rookies going up against each other, Paige Hareb vs. Bruna Schmitz, Paige came out on top 12.17 to Bruna’s 8.20.
  • In the second heat Happy Stephanie was up against one of her best friends Chelsea Hedges. Both gals surfed very well and in the end Steph came out on top with a 15.83 to 14.83.
  • In the third quarter final heat it was Hawaiian Rookie Coco Ho up to take on Woodsy. Coco surfed brilliantly and made her Dad retired top professional surfer, Michael Ho proud. IT was a huge win for Coco 15.34 to Woodsy 7.23.

Now the stage was set as Hawaii’s Melanie Bartels would be up against Peru’s and past world champion, Sofia Mulanovich. Sofia surfed well , but could not hold off Melanie, who won the very close heat Mel 11.57 to Sofia’s 11.50 and went on to meet Coco Ho in the semi-finals a few days later.

Fun session with Melanie

On another lay day we all went to the south end of Dbar and had a fun session with Melanie Bartels, Bevo from WA and Funny Linda Fisher was riping it up and being her fun self. Later on Parko and Mick paddled out to throw some chucks with Melanie and the girls too! You can see this on Melanie’s facebook page, which is presented by

Back to the Comp at Snapper Rocks

Sunday March 8th we had beautiful weather and the Comp was moved back to Snapper Rocks for the final day for the women. The women were happy to have it back at Snappers Rocks in glassy 3 to 4 feet waves. The first semi had World champ Stephanie Gilmore up against Paige Hareb. Stephanie sailed through into the finals and was waiting to see which Hawaiian gal she would meet in their final.

Right from the beginning in the second Semi, Melanie’s first wave within seconds of the heat starting, Mel killed it with a 9.17 and performed in Melanie Bartels style with some giant moves and showing total confidence she was going to win. Her back up wave was her second wave 8.17 and Coco still had not caught a wave as yet. Coco with her graceful style can really turn it on, but even with her Dad Michael on the beach sending good vibes her way she couldn’t catch up with Melanie’s positive mind set that she was on focus to the be in the finals.

The outcome was Mel 1st which moved her into another final duel with Stephanie. The last time they met was the last ASP event of 2008 at Hookipa in December in Hawaii. Honolua Bay was to small and not giving the girls waves at all. Steph beat Mel in Hawaii, but this was another day and it was looking good for both girls.

Melanie was very stoked to be in the final with Stephanie with only the two women surfing Snappers all by them selves. The beach was cracking with an estimated crowd of 10,000 – a record at a WCT event for the women in Australia. There would have been another 100,000 plus watching on the internet LIVE from around the world on as all WCT events can be viewed.

The Roxy and ASP organizer’s had four men’s heats set to run after the second women’s Semi’s. But with the surf starting to back off from earlier in the morning with consistent waves. the ASP director for the event changed it all up and through out a men’s forty minute super session to give the women a chance to rest, before their final started.

The surf still wasn’t happening when they started the women’s final. But,

  • Stephanie Gilmore was on her game and caught the first wave in the final just after 30 seconds, off the point. The wave wasn’t even a set wave , and the surf had not really been working to much with the tide change. But, Stephanie blitz it with some serious critical turns and Steph was awarded an almost perfect ride with a 9.57 point ride. Stephanie was in her own back yard living right around the bend and had chosen on a smaller grower wave and rode it beautifully all the way through into Little Marley.
  • Stephanie’s second wave had a score of 5.17. And Melanie was trying to stay focused and wait for the sets, but the waves were taking a nap. And just not coming Melanie’s way.
  • By the time Steph caught her second wave this found Mel, needing a combination of two rides to catch up to Stephanie.’s score.
  • When a set did come it found Melanie a bit to far inside. Mel was being even more patient, but out of position, so Mel moved outside to the point. Where Steph caught her first ride.
  • With the conditions just not happening, Mel was wondering where those waves were from their morning sessions. Time was running out. The Hawaiian had been on her game all week with some incredible surfing, but the waves were just not there for her. A wave finally came into play and Melanie rode it with style and grace with some hot moves to give her a 7.5 and there was still a 2 minutes left to beat Steph, but Mel needed a 8.6 to do that.
  • And then Mel caught another wave which gave her a 5. But not enough to catch
  • Gilmore’s consolidated lead. Stephanie caught another wave in the dying minutes which gave her a 6.5 to finish with a combined score of16.07 to Melanie’s 12.50.

It was a great start for the 2009 WCT tour and Stephanie leading in number one position with Melanie number two in the world. Both girls were over the moon and happy to surf together in the finals. Next stop Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia April 8th-13th.

A little more about Nancy Emerson...

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