“The best female surfing ever.” “I’d rather watch these girls than the guys—I normally take a nap when the girls are on.” “I am blown away.” That’s how the spectators on the beach and the commentators in the webcast booth described today’s performance level. The Brazilian bikini jokes and cracks about good looks subsided as the World Tour girls surprised everyone with the most exciting run of heats ever seen in the girls’ side of the sport.
The first upset came in the Quarters when World Tour rookie Laura Enever knocked out World Champ Steph Gilmore. Still recovering from an attack six weeks ago, which left her with a broken wrist and six weeks out of the water, Steph is still sporting a wrist brace and has only recently made her way back into the lineup.
“I can’t blame it on my wrist,” said Steph, always gracious in defeat. “I haven’t really found my rhythm yet and I’ve just been wanting to surf every wave I get my hands on. Laura was patient and had better wave choice.”
“Steph’s had a rough time this year,” said Laura. “But then she got barreled in from of my face on her first wave and I’m like, ‘Great.’ I’m just so stoked though. It’s good to see the rookies doing so good and not being so…rookie.”
In the following heat, the poster girl for the Roxy Pro, Sally Fitzgibbons, went on to post the highest wave score of the event—men’s or women’s—with a 9.93.
Thus commenced the 9-point parade. Carissa Moore destroyed her subsequent quarterfinal heat, collecting a 9.27 and a 9.1. Then in the first semi, Tyler Wright found a 9.6; in the following semi, Carissa scored a 9.43. But as the clock ticked down Carissa struggled to find a back-up score to combat a dominant Sally Fitzgibbons. In the final nail-biting moments, just as the horn blew, she managed to sneak into a mid-size wave and ripped it to shreds, earning a slot in the final against 16-year-old rookie Tyler Wright.
The two evenly matched teenagers—both having won multiple World Tour events—engaged in a fierce, drama-filled head-to-head battle. Carissa kicked it off with a 9.17 and the back and forth began. Really though, in the end, Carissa’s win could be attributed to one instance of competitive strategizing: Tyler, sitting out the back without priority, took off on a bomb, pulling in deep. Carissa, spotting the potential for Tyler to get a massive score, took off, causing Tyler to straighten out. Carissa finished off the wave, getting a decent score and more importantly, keeping Tyler from the 10-point ride that that wave could easily have provided.
“I think if I didn’t drop in on Tyler on that barrel, she would have won,” Carissa admitted on the podium before looking over to Tyler with a smile. “Sorry to do that to you, Tyler.”
On top of her fourth World Tour event win, Carissa was clocked at 46 km/hr, earning her an additional $2,500 and the title of the fastest woman surfer of the event.
If this is a sign of what’s to come, it looks to be an exciting year ahead. Now if we can just get a few sponsors to take note and add a few more events to the women’s dwindling Tour schedule…
Carissa Moore def. Tyler Wright
Tyler Wright def. Laura Enever
Carissa Moore def. Sally Fitzgibbons
Tyler Wright def. Silvana Lima
Laura Enever def. Steph Gilmore
Sally Fitzgibbons def. Coco Ho
Carissa Moore def. Chelsea Hedges