Australian Stephanie Gilmore, 26, claimed her 6th world surfing crown in a dramatic finale to the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP Women’s World Championship Tour in Hawaii yesterday when Carissa Moore (HAW) defeated Tyler Wright (AUS), Gilmore’s closest rival for the title, in the Final of the season-endingTarget Maui Pro presented by Schick Hydro Silk at Honolua Bay.
South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag played her part in title race, defeating Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in their Quarterfinal clash and denying the Australian’s World Title ambitions. Buitendag went on to finish third overall in the season ending event, her second best result of the campaign after her runner-up berth at the season opener in Australia back in March.
Competing in excellent 1.5 metre waves at the fabled Honolua Bay on Maui, Moore snatched her third event victory of the year as she and Wright went blow-for-blow in the Final match. Moore nailed the coffin shut on her final ride with a 9.73 (out of a possible 10) leaving Wright needing a 9.31 for a victory that would have resulted in an historic surf-off with Gilmore for the ASP crown.
“This is definitely one of the best wins I’ve ever had,” said Moore. “To have it here at home in front of my whole family means so much to me. The crowd was amazing, so thanks to everyone for coming, and I’m just so appreciative to Target, Schick Hydro Silk and everyone who made this event happen. This has been an incredible year.”
Gilmore, Wright and Fitzgibbons were the three surfers in contention for the World Title heading into the final event of the year at Honolua Bay, a venue that Gilmore dominated when it was previously on the women’s schedule, posting victories in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Gilmore fell in the Quarterfinals to Californian Courtney Conlogue (USA), leaving to the door open to the remaining contenders. But Fitzgibbons was ousted from the event by Buitendag in the very next heat, dashing her hopes for a maiden world surfing crown and leaving only Wright remaining in the hunt against Gilmore.
Wright, needing to win the event to send the title race to a three-heat surf-off, proceeded to smash her Quarterfinal against Lakey Petersen (USA) and Semifinal against Buitendag to reach the Final, but came up short and had to settle for the runner-up berth for the event and World Title.
“It’s been one of the most exciting title races in the sport’s history,” Gilmore said. “All the girls at the top were really close and it came down to the last event. I fell back a little bit in the ratings through the middle of the season, but I was still getting results and always felt like I was in the race.”
“That was probably the most emotional I’ve ever been watching someone else surf in my life,” Gilmore said of the Final. “I know how focused Tyler (Wright) is and I was completely prepared for a surf-off. However, I also knew how incredibly capable Carissa (Moore) is at virtually every venue. I feel like I had a year’s worth of emotions packed into one heat. I won my first title here at Honolua Bay, but after my loss in the Quarterfinals, I was prepared for anything to happen. I’m really emotional right now.”
Today’s title clinching puts Gilmore one behind the all-time women’s record-holder of Layne Beachley (AUS) with 7 and third behind all-time men’s and women’s record-holder Kelly Slater (USA) with 11.
“The calibre of surfing on tour this season is the highest it has ever been,” Gilmore said. “There are no easy heats. This was the hardest title I’ve ever won. The talent level is only going to increase in future years but I’m so pleased I’ve won and want to thank everyone who has supported me this year – my family, my friends and my sponsors.”
Target Maui Pro Final Results:
1 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 18.23
2 – Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.03
Target Maui Pro Semifinal Results:
Semifinal 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.67 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 11.93
Semifinal 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.76 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 9.74
Target Maui Pro Quarterfinal Results:
Quarterfinal 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.20 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 9.50
Quarterfinal 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.67 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.03
Quarterfinal 3: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 15.97 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.33
Quarterfinal 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.03 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.30
2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP Women’s World Tour
- Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 64 200pts
- Tyler Wright (AUS) 62 200
- Carissa Moore (HAW) 61 400
- Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 60 700
- Malia Manuel (HAW) 43 600
- Lakey Petersen (USA) 42 300
- Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 40 350
- Johanne Defay (FRA) 38 850
- Courtney Conlogue (USA) 36 900
- Laura Enever (AUS) 32 100
The final stop on the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour will be the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, featuring the men’s world title race between Gabriel Medina (BRA), Mick Fanning (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA), from December 8 – 20, 2014.