On Monday in Puerto Rico, Stephanie Gilmore won her fourth consecutive World Title in only four years on Tour. But that wasn't all she had her eyes set on today. With Stephanie's win in the Quarterfinals against Melanie Bartels, she clinched the World Title, and her first celebration and champagne shower of the day commenced. She then went on to dominate her Semifinal, setting up a Final with Carissa Moore to decide this year's Women's Rip Curl Pro Search.
With things beginning slowly for Stephanie in the Final, it seemed as if all the earlier excitement was causing her to struggle to maintain her momentum. That was until mid-way through the heat when she found a nice lined-up wave and surfed it to perfection--or close to it--as the wave score came in at a 9.8. With that wave, her best of the event, Stephanie took the lead and set herself up for her second celebration and champagne shower of the day. Does it get any better? I don't think so.
Now, at only 22 years of age and already with four titles, Steph could possibly be the first to challenge Layne Beachley and her record seven Women's World Titles--then potentially set her sights on Kelly Slater and his soon-to-be record 10 Men's World Titles. If Steph keeps winning every year, like she has so far, we will see her on her 11th World Title at only 29 years of age.
Impressive surfing today, unbelievable career so far, and limitless potential for the future. With Kelly Slater most likely walking away from competition shortly, it looks as if young Stephanie Gilmore will be taking over as the most accomplished men's or women's competitor actively competing. Exciting days for women's surfing lie ahead, as the next generation will have to aim high if they are to rise up to her level.