A steely resolve to “prove this system wrong” powered superstar Stephanie Gilmore to a stunning eighth world surfing crown after she toppled the world No.1 Carissa Moore on finals day in California.
Gilmore entered finals day as the fifth ranked of five surfers and needed to surf in five heats before beating the Hawaiian and breaking down in tears on the sand at Lower Trestles.
“I disliked this format to be honest. The world champ should be crowned in all the different waves over the entire period of the year,” Gilmore said.
“And now I love it.
“I have a chance, let’s just prove this whole system is wrong – if you can come from the bottom, come from fifth and win a world title, that’s freaking cool, but Carissia is the world champ to me this year, she’s had the best season ever.
“I don’t think I’ve ever won a world title sitting in the water against the world No.1 – there really are not many words that can describe this feeling right now.
“And that‘s why I now love this format because it puts all the pressure on you, it puts you under the pump, it’s truly incredible.”
Gilmore endured several hurdles in 2022, including testing positive to Covid-19 before the historic event at North Shore in Hawaii.
“It feels like the shortest season but the longest year of my life,” she said.
“To start with such a shocker at Pipeline, to miss it and to have a bad one at Sunset, I just had to crawl my way back into the cut.
“I was out there thinking, whatever happens, happens.”
Gilmore had to get through tough competition in Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy, Brazil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb and France’s Johanne Defay before the final against defending champion Moore.
“I was really proud to make it past Brisa, Tatiana, Johanne, all of the most awesome female surfers in the world and to the final against Carissa, who in my mind, she’s the real world champ this year,” she said.
“She had such a stellar year, so many wonderful performances and I’m so inspired by what she does.
“I was out there thinking if this happens, it‘s freaking cool but if it doesn’t I won’t be bummed because it’s against Carissa and she really is the greatest of all time in my opinion.”