There were several reasons why this year’s race to the ASP Women’s World Title was deemed one of the best in women’s surfing. On tour, Carissa Moore had an early edge, winning both the Margaret River Pro and the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. Likewise, Sally Fitzgibbons looked good for the title early on, winning two back-to-back events in May. Carissa Moore would go on to win the same number of events as Stephanie Gilmore. Gilmore won the following three events: the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, the Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles, and the Cascais Women’s Pro.
Perhaps what sealed the deal for Australian, Stephanie Gilmore (26) was Carissa’s abdication of the race for the title in Portugal? However, there is much more to the story. Last year, Stephanie Gilmore was unable to secure a single win. Gilmore opened up the 2014 season with a win in front of her home crowd on the Gold Coast of Australia. Her goal was to surf better. Not only did she achieve that by winning three contests, but she did so against an international playing field of world-class athletes.
In the summer (July 27th-August 3rd), Tyler Wright took the Vans US Open of Surfing over Steph Gilmore. Tyler Wright also secured the Roxy Pro France. At the last event on the tour, Wright had to surf three heats to Stephanie’s one. Then, Wright had to surf against two-time World Champion, Carissa Moore. Moore had already proved she was capable of winning at the Margaret River Pro and at Bells Beach. Now, she was ending the tour in front of her home crowd. Nonetheless, three contenders were still in the race for the world title; they were all Australian: Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, and Sally Fitzgibbons. Australian female surfers were dominating the season.
This would serve as the backdrop for the Target Maui Pro at the pointbreak in Honolua Bay, Maui, Hawaii, and for the completion of the ASP Women’s World Tour. The Quarterfinals produced solid 8-foot swell. Courtney Conlogue (USA) was a standout at the Target Maui Pro, delivering a perfect 10-point ride (her first ever on the WCT) and defeating Gilmore. Gilmore won in 2007, 2008, and 2009, respectively. Despite her success at Honolua Bay in previous years, Gilmore was knocked out in the Quarterfinals. This was a gut-wrenching moment for Gilmore. Likewise, Fitzgibbons was knocked out by Bianca Buitendag, leaving Wright against Gilmore.
For the Finals, the surf dropped from 8 feet to 4-6 feet. Emotions remained heightened. Tyler Wright faced Carissa Moore. Were Wright to lose, Gilmore would be assured the world title. Were Wright to win, she would still have to face Gilmore in the sport’s first surf-off to determine a world title holder (picture women’s surfing version of Zoolander’s walk-off). Would this be like the Vans US Open of Surfing, which took place in the summer (July 27-August 3rd)? A surf-off has yet to happen in Steph Gilmore’s career as a professional surfer. An emotionally invested Gilmore reports:
That was probably the most emotional I’ve ever been watching someone else surf in my life. 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.”
Tyler Wright was a formidable competitor, championing three heats to meet Moore in the Final. But, Carissa’s final ride was a 9.73. This high score eliminated Tyler Wright, giving Gilmore the advantage (in terms of points) and her sixth ASP Women’s World Title. Gilmore is just one title away from matching Layne Beachley (AUS), the women’s record-holder. Hawaii’s Carissa Moore managed to seize the Target Maui Pro in front of her family and friends. The 2014 ASP World Tour season enabled Gilmore to open in front of her home crowd, for Carissa Moore to close in front of hers, for Gilmore to make a comeback (becoming that much closer to tying a women’s world record), and for all to sincerely recognize how well women are surfing.
Top Ten ASP Women’s World Tour Rankings
1. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 64,000 points
2. Tyler Wright (AUS) 62,200 points
3. Carissa Moore (HAW) 61,400 points
4. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 60,700 points
5. Malia Manuel (HAW) 43,600 points
6. Lakey Peterson (USA) 42,300 points
7. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 40,350 points
8. Johanne Defay (FRA) 38,850 points
9. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 36,900 points
10. Laura Enever (AUS) 32,100 points
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: Courntey 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
The final stop on the Men’s 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour will be the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, taking place from December 8-20, 2014.Gabriel Medina (BRA), Mick Fanning (AUS), and Kelly Slater (USA) are leading contenders in the race for the world title.