Stephanie Gilmore is preparing for her chance at an eighth World Title at Lower Trestles, CA.
In the world of women’s surfing, there is no woman that holds more WSL world titles than Stephanie Gilmore. The Rip Curl World Surf League Final is just around the corner and Gilmore is once again in the running for the number one spot. Gilmore won her first WSL title back in 2007, her rookie year on tour, and has not slowed down since. Beginning on September 8 in San Clemente, CA at a surf spot called Lower Trestles, Gilmore will be looking to add another feather to her cap.
The WSL 2022 season begins in January in Hawaii. The legendary surf spot called “Pipeline” is usually the culmination of the tour, but this year it was the opening act. The best men and women in surfing took to the water near Sunset Beach Hawaii to begin their journey to the title. Gilmore was not among them. She was not able to compete in the event due to the WSL COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols and had immediately been placed behind the pack.
Despite the setback, Gilmore worked her way up the rankings with some top finishes throughout the year. Her most notable finishes this year included third place at the MEO Pro Portugal, first place at the Surf City El Salvador Pro, and third place at the Corona Open J-Bay. With enough accumulation of points, Gilmore has secured her place in the Rip Curl WSL Final.
One year ago the format for the final changed. In past years the person with the most points at the end of the year was the winner. Now the top five point earners are placed into a last-hurrah-style event to battle it out to see who will take home the title. The fifth place surfer enters the first heat of the day against the fourth place seed. With a win they face third place, and so on. Ultimately the fifth-place surfer can win all day and walk away the champion. That is the plan for Gilmore.
Stephanie Gilmore expresses her thoughts on the Rip Curl WSL Final format
Gilmore comes into the event ranked fifth and will be in the first heat, as she was last year. Unfortunately, she was unable to make it past the first heat last year but has learned some lessons from the loss.
“I had a chance to be in the finals last year, and I didn’t really put on a good performance in the slightest. So it’s really rad that I get to have another show, just another opportunity to try and make some heats and try to win another world title,” Gilmore said exclusively to FanSided. “This new format is really cool because coming in at fifth on the rankings, I still have a shot at the title. So yeah, that’s pretty special. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve just been making sure my body’s feeling great and I’m in a good headspace. And yeah, being positive. I really love Lower Trestles. It’s a fun wave. So that’s kind of the main thing, just keeping it simple and getting ready to take on Brisa Hennessy in the first heat.”
Winning all heats of the day is a tall task, especially with the caliber of opponents that she will be up against. The rest of the finals field includes reigning champion Carissa Moore, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Johanne Defay, and Brisa Hennesy. Being on tour together all year, the surfers are pretty familiar with each other. Gilmore knows all the tendencies of each woman she will potentially face during the event but chooses to look towards herself and her skills rather than have a game plan for each opponent.
“I just have to focus on myself. As long as I’m on two of the best waves that come through in that 30 minutes, and I can get to work and do what I know how to do, which is, you know, my best surfing. I’m not trying to do anything too crazy, if I can surf really strong in the beginning and sort of build from there, then that’s the plan. But yeah, it’s hard at this point, it’s like, none of the girls really have any weaknesses,” Gilmore laughed. “It’s hard to break down what they can and can’t do. It’s just a matter of focusing on my strengths and sort of going after it like that.”
Gilmore has nothing but respect for these competitors. With seven world titles under her belt, Gilmore is widely known as the best female competitive surfer of all time. She has confidence in herself and she knows that if she gets the waves she needs she can win at Lower Trestles.
The Rip Curl WSL Final will take place within the waiting period of Sept 8 to Sept 16 depending on the weather and conditions of the waves. Fans can view the competition on the WSL app or on the WSL YouTube page.