In a much-anticipated contest, stop number seven for the World Championship Tour concluded with Stephanie Gilmore taking home the first Swatch Women’s Pro title, after defeating fellow Australian Sally Fitzgibbons.
Leading up to the finals, the women’s competition was fierce, marked by upsets that underlined just how competitive the current Tour is.
Day 1 featured some solid performances from contenders early in Round One, as Laura Enever (AUS), Tyler Wright (AUS) and Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) all had top finishes.
Heading into Round 2, the competition intensified, as Paulina Ado (FRA) defeated Malia Manuel (HAW), leaving Manuel far from pleased with the judges' scores.
“I was relying on my rail surfing,” said Manuel. “Obviously the judges didn’t give it to me. Honestly, I thought I won the heat by a couple of points. It’s kind of shocking; the men use their rails and power spray. Honestly, I thought it was the wrong result.”
Round 3 saw Wright grabbing a win in her heat. The Australian was coming off a big victory at the Vans US Open, and she showed she was ready to compete.
Coco Ho of Hawaii gained momentum by defeating Carissa Moore with last-minute power snaps in Round 3, sending her straight into the quarterfinals — and leaving the top-ranked Moore in a tight situation, facing a must-win scenario in Round 4.
Moore faced California’s own Lakey Peterson. Unfortunately for Moore, Peterson’s comfort and fearless drive in Trestles was no match, and the No. 1 contender was eliminated.
Despite Moore drawing first blood with a big wrap to open, she couldn’t make an inside connection on her first wave. This gave Peterson priority. Taking full advantage of it, Peterson dropped in and set up a nice snap on the lip to put her on the scoreboard. Moore struggled to find her rhythm, while Peterson came charging out with a tail high reverse and a score of a 7.50 to set the tone for the rest of the heat. Moore did answer back with clean wrap around, but it wasn’t enough, as Peterson came back once again banging it off the lip in her opening maneuver and following with two more key turns that led her to an 8.17, which only added to the pressure on Moore with only 2:10 remaining in the heat. With such a huge upset, not only was Moore’s time at Trestles over, her reign at the top of the rankings was too, as Sally Fitzgibbons—who was only 200 points behind Moore—moved up to the No. 1 spot.
Other Round 4 results included Enever over Ado, Buitendag over Dimity Stoyle, and Defay over Alessa Quizon.
Quarterfinals: Lakey Peterson vs. Coco Ho
Peterson went into Heat 2 of the quarterfinals with full momentum against No. 10 ranked Ho. Peterson would draw first blood and showed just how competitive this heat was going to be. Peterson took an early lead with 18:25 remaining, leaving Ho needing a combination of 11.85. With just 10 minutes remaining, Peterson let go of a key wave, despite priority, and Ho capitalized on it by snapping it in the pocket followed by a beautiful wrap around that gave her a much-needed score of a 7.77 and the lead over Peterson. The California native did not quit, though. With only 2:10 left in the heat, Peterson took back the lead, but a buzzer beater from Ho edged Peterson and moved the Hawaiian standout to the Semifinals.
Semifinals Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore vs. Coco Ho
First set of action between Gilmore and Ho, the Hawaiian would get on the board first, but it wasn’t long until Gilmore showed dominance with smooth turns and nabbed a score of 7.67, only to follow up with another crucial score of 6.17. Despite last-minute attempts from Ho, and some nice scores, it was not enough to push her to the Finals.
Semifinals Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons vs. Johanne Defay
Defay showed her competitive side, pulling off nice vertical snaps to get a solid score of 6.33. The two would do battle for most of the heat, until Fitzgibbons came storming through with a 9.17. Defay would respond one last time with an 8.33, but that wasn’t enough to edge out the now No. 1 ranked Fitzgibbons.
Finals: Gilmore vs. Fitzgibbons
In a much-anticipated matchup, Gilmore showed splendid style with a clean and solid opening maneuver that earned a 9.50, setting the tone for the heat. Fitzgibbons answered with a nice seven pointer. The two exchanged the lead a couple of times until Gilmore took control again as she banged it off with a tail slide finish followed by a nice floater giving her a solid score of 8.33. Gilmore did not stop there: With smooth turns and a flawless layback and finish, Gilmore put up a perfect 10 on her last wave to secure the win.
“I wanted to get Sally back from Fiji because I had a tough performance there,” said Gilmore. “Whoever won that heat there, I thought it was a definitive moment for the year.”
The next stop on the Women’s World Championship Tour is the Roxy Pro France, set to take place September 23-29; it will be stop number eight on the WCT.