Stephanie Gilmore made surfing history by becoming the first woman to win eight world titles. The Australian beat Hawaiian great Carissa Moore, the defending champion, twice to nil on Thursday at Lower Trestles in southern California.
It was a dream match between Gilmour and Moore, the five-time world champion. Gilmour was on a tear as she won heat two in the best-of-three final 15.23 to 11.97, having taken out the opening heat 15.00 to 10.90.
The great Australian now has one more world title than compatriot Lane Beachley.
After a shaky start, Gilmore cruised through a day of five finals on Thursday, winning four matches to claim the world title. It was Gilmour’s first world title of 2018.
While Gilmore shone, compatriots Ethan Ewing and Jack Robinson fell to Brazil’s Italo Ferreira, who was facing compatriot Filipe Toledo to decide the men’s world title.
Gilmore easily beat France’s Johanne Defay 16.83-10.53, putting her in the title decider against Moore. But she had to come from behind to win her first two matches.
After her first win over Costa Rican Brisa Hennessy, Gilmore narrowly beat Brazil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb. With just 40 seconds remaining, Gilmore clocked a 6.83 for a 14.76 total to edge out Hennessy, who clocked a 14.33.
Gilmour left Weston-Webb behind but took the lead within 10 minutes. Weston-Webb needed 7.31 to beat Gilmore and they traded waves in the final two minutes. The Brazilian scored 6.8, meaning Gilmour won 15.30 to 14.87.
Gilmore, the No. 5 seed, struggled early against Hennessy with a few falls. Hennessy took the lead in the clean two meters with 7.0 and 7.33 wave scores and edged out Gilmore with a 14.33 to 6.67.
But with 12 minutes remaining, the Australian clocked 7.93 to get back into contention. Needing 6.40 to win, Gilmore was out of the running in the final two minutes.
The judges then disallowed Hennessy, giving Australia a crucial advantage and he got full price. With Hennessy unable to catch the wave immediately behind her, Gilmore made a ride in the final minute that left no doubt that she would take the match.
In the five-man finals, Ferreira first beat Japan’s Konoa Igarashi and then eliminated Ewing 13.10-11.83. Ferreira was also too good for Robinson, beating him 16.30 to 13.30.
The two Brazilians then had the heat of the day, with Toledo winning 15.13-14.97 to go to one. Ferreira won the 2019 world title, while Toledo has never claimed the crown.
Brazilians have won five of the last seven world titles since Mick Fanning was the most recent Australian champion in 2013.