MANLY, Australia (Wednesday, October 11, 2006) – Wildcard surfer Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) wowed the world when she became the youngest-ever winner of an ASP Women's World Tour event in 2005. She's stamped herself in the history books with her win at the $US100,000 Havaianas Beachley Classic today.
Nineteen-year-old Gilmore is the only individual in surfing history to win two ASP World Championship Tour events as a wildcard.
Surfing from the trials to take out the richest event in women's surfing history, the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) No. 2 led the entire 35-minute final to post an emphatic victory at Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia, this morning.
"This whole event has happened in just three days and now it's all over!" Gilmore said. "I took it heat by heat and everything's fallen into place. It's unbelievable. Layne's a six-time world champ and one of the best competitors in the world; she's really smart in a heat and I have learnt a lot watching her. It's been great just being out in the water with her, so to come out on top, I just can't even explain it."
Despite not yet being a full-fledged fixture on the ASP Women's World Tour, Gilmore, who is already one of the highest paid female surfers in the world, earned US$20,000 for her win today. That figure is double what the average women's world tour event doles out.
Gilmore didn't paddle out expecting to earn the cash easily. Beachley's Semifinal win over Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) had the Manly local looking the girl to beat.
"I was watching Layne and Chelsea's Semi and Layne got a 9.0 and a 7.5 and I thought, 'OK, this is going to be really hard,' but I had a little plan and things changed around and time went a lot quicker than I thought. I was sitting out there in the lead, but not by much and I was like, 'Go, get a wave girl, go!' and then I got that last one at the end which sealed it. My heart was pounding like crazy, I can't believe it!"
Currently rated second in her first full year on the ASP's World Qualifying Series (WQS), her place amongst the elite on next year's tour is almost assured. Her prior performances indicate that she'll stir things up when she gets there.
"I am sure by me winning the girls are going to want to smash me even harder now," Gilmore said. "I guess they've been thinking "Oh, wildcard,' we can just cruise a bit, but I'm sure now they'll just want to come out in front of me."
Event namesake Beachley, who has been beaten by Gilmore before, certainly wanted to come out in front today. Unfortunately for her, it was not to be.
"It came so close to a fairytale ending for me and I was bitterly disappointed not to win but I am so relieved it is over," Beachley said. "I'm really proud of Stephanie but I'm proud of myself for staging such a great event too."