Steph Gilmore proved today that the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP Women’s World Title race is far from over with a blazing performance in the first ever women’s WCT event at Lower Trestles.
After a slow start in Round 1, Gilmore was unrestrained in sudden-death Round 2 and produced a range of critical and committed turns with a 100% success rate. Currently ranked fourth in the world, she knew there could be no holding back if she was to dispatch Alana Blanchard and move on to the high-impact Rounds. Her reward was the highest heat score of the competition thus far: a total of 17.83, including a 9-point ride, against Pauline Ado and Lakey Peterson.
“I was so excited to surf that heat and I couldn’t believe I got a nine on my first wave,” said Stephanie Gilmore. “I felt really relaxed after that. But at the last minute I went down to third so I really had to snap out of it and think about how to get out of that situation. I knew I didn’t need a huge score but it was a matter of waiting for a wave. Luckily I had priority and a wave came. It was close and I’m happy I made it.”
Five-time ASP Women’s World Champion, Stephanie Gilmore, delivering a dominant performance on day 1 of the Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles. Image: ASP / Rowland
Heat 2 of Round 4 saw a battle of the Hawaiians as reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion Carissa Moore took on compatriot Coco Ho and rookie Laura Enever. Moore and Ho had one seven-pointer apiece for the first half but Ho had the edge. Enever was still scoreless by the halfway point. Ho backed up her 7.50 with a 6.50, sneaking in under Enever’s priority to solidify her lead. The Hawaiians went wave-for-wave in the final moments. Moore’s sweeping turns scored her an 8.97 but Ho used her critical, in-the-pocket surfing to post an 8.67, take the win and seal a place in the Quarterfinals. Ho, current ASP World No. 10, previously claimed victory in Round 1 heat against Sally Fitzgibbons and Alana Blanchard when she posted the first nine-point ride of the competition, a 9.43.
“I’m stoked to get through that one,” said Coco Ho. “I knew that Carissa (Moore) would hands down be the hardest person to beat out there. She has the power, the progression, everything you need for Lowers. I was able to get the better of both exchanges but it was so hard to wait for the scores at the end.”
“The World Title is coming down to the wire with just four more events so this is it,” said Carissa Moore. “I’m trying my best not to think about it and not to put too much pressure on myself. I can feel it creeping up but I’m trying to stay calm and have fun.”
Sally Fitzgibbons, Dimity Stoyle and Johanne Defay were neck-and-neck through their Round 3 match-up, with all three surfers holding 12 points with three minutes left on the clock. Fitzgibbons, in the hunt for the World Title crown, was able to edge the win with a 6.77 and make her way to the Quarterfinals. Fitzgibbons also defeated wildcard Mahina Maeda (HAW) in Round 2. 16-year-old Mahina, who was awarded the final spot in the Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles after becoming the highest placed ASP Qualification Series surfer at the Swatch Girls Pro in France, leaves the competition in equal 13th place.
“It’s been a big day having three heats,” said Sally Fitzgibbons. “I’m really happy with the result. The level is so high so you know all the girls in your heat are going to post big scores, so you have to think carefully and assess each wave. You have to surf smart and take the best of what comes your way in a heat.”
Current ASP World No. 3 Tyler Wright (AUS) battled Alessa Quizon and Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) for a place in the Quarterfinals. Fresh from her first WCT win of the season at the Vans US Open of Surfing, Wright delivered a confident performance, netting two eight-point rides for a decisive win.
“I feel good and I just love surfing right now,” said Tyler Wright. “I think that’s what helps me surf better. I feel comfortable here and I had a great break at home before coming here. It’s really the first time I’ve surfed here with no one else out so it will take me a while to understand this wave.”
Bianca Buitendag previously took on Santa Barbara native and World No. 6 Lakey Peterson (USA) and Johanne Defay (FRA) in Heat 6 of Round 1. Despite limited experience out at Trestles the South African used her vertical backhand approach to post excellent rides of 9.03 and 8.33 for a confident win.
“I caught more waves in competition out here today than I’ve ridden my whole life,” said Bianca Buitendag. “I came down here with a car load of girls during the US Open to try and surf but it’s such a crowded lineup that it’s really hard to catch anything. I was just so excited to have only two other surfers in the water in perfect surf.”
Earlier in the day, elimination Round 2 saw Courtney Conlogue defending her home break against Hawaiian Alessa Quizon after a three-event absence following an ankle injury she suffered in Bells Beach. The hometown hero looked busy early on but Quizon was the first to register a solid score of 7.17 for a line of backhand hacks. Conlogue was able to force a lead change late in the heat with a five-point ride but Quizon backed up her opener with a 6.17, regaining charge of the heat and putting her better-seeded opponent on high alert, and eventually eliminating her from the competition.
“Courtney (Conlogue) wants it as bad as I do,” said Alessa Quizon. “I just tried to not be nervous, and focus on myself. She’s been training, and I see that she’s getting better, and you don’t ever underestimate a competitor.”
“I was out of the rhythm with the ocean,” said Courtney Conlogue. “It was frustrating but you’ve got to start somewhere. It was a building block, I’ve got to learn from my mistakes. We’ll see what happens in the later part of the season.”
Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 16.50, Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.73, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 11.10
Heat 2: Laura Enever (AUS) 15.60, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.93, Paige Hareb (NZL) 10.83
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.60, Mahina Maeda (HAW) 11.50, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 6.30
Heat 4: Coco Ho (HAW) 16.36, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.94, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 13.56
Heat 5: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.57, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.07, Pauline Ado (FRA) 9.83
Heat 6: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 17.36, Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.10, Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.00
Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Alessa Quizon (HAW) 13.34 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 8.23
Heat 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 14.00 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 10.60
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.04 def. Mahina Maeda (HAW) 10.60
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 17.83 def. Alana Blanchard (HAW) 14.06
Heat 5: Pauline Ado (FRA) 15.93 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.73
Heat 6: Johanne Defay (FRA) 14.10 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 13.50
Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.67, Pauline Ado (FRA) 14.34, Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.37
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 16.17, Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.14, Laura Enever (AUS) 4.33
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.34, Dimity Stoyle (AUS 12.37), Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.13
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.43, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 14.24, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 12.50
Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Pauline Ado (FRA) vs. Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)
Heat 3: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) vs. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
Heat 4: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)