Three-time women’s world champ Steph Gilmore fell at the hands of 15-year-old wildcard Sarah Mason in round three of the TSB Bank Women's Surf Fest in New Zealand today. It was a huge upset for Gilmore and a coming-of-age moment for Mason. After watching the highlight reel from the trials, one thing is abundantly clear: Sarah Mason is about as legit as they come.
We’ll spare you a full press release, but here’s a few quotes from Steph and the upstart that cut her down.
According to a release from the ASP, "I felt like I was in pretty good form out there but I must have got too comfortable," Gilmore said. "I made a few priority mistakes towards the end and Sarah (Mason) took advantage. She's an excellent surfer and today proved she's a dangerous competitor. No one wants to go down in the third round, but it definitely opens the world title race up. It's a long year ahead and I'll be focusing on Sydney now."
"I'm buzzing right now," Mason said. "I'm so excited. This is the biggest win of my career. I was down for most of the heat, then I got a pretty good righthander and that put me back in the hunt. I was just hoping that I could get another opportunity to score. That left came right at the end and when I heard I got the score, I was blown away."
Mason's win was received with raucous jubilation from the hundreds on the beach who came to Fitzroy in droves to support their local superstars.
"It's so cool to have everyone on beach cheering you through," Mason said. "Every time I finished a wave, I could hear everyone clapping and cheering. It gives you a great confidence. It's been a great week for me, winning the New Zealand Open and then the Pro Junior and now this. I'm just focusing on the next heat now and I hope to keep going."
TSB BANK WOMEN’S SURF FESTIVAL ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 13.67 def. Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 9.44
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.00 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 9.67
Heat 3: Paige Hareb (NZL) 13.83 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.07
Heat 4: Sarah Mason (NZL) 14.03 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.66
Heat 5: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 11.67 def. Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 7.83
Heat 6: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 18.07 def. Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 8.24
Heat 7: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 14.43 def. Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS) 10.40
Heat 8: Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.67 def. Amee Donohoe (AUS) 10.44
TSB BANK WOMEN’S SURF FESTIVAL QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Melanie Bartels (HAW) vs. Carissa Moore (HAW)
QF 2: Paige Hareb (NZL) vs. Sarah Mason (NZL)
QF 3: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
QF 4: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) vs. Silvana Lima (BRA)