Stephanie Gilmore defeated Tyler Wright in the final of the season-ending Maui Pro and has immediately set her sights on an eighth world title next year.
Gilmore’s 14.16 to 9.67 victory over her fellow Australian ended Wright’s hopes of emulating older brother Owen’s fairytale comeback victory to World Surf League competition in 2017 after a long layoff.
The title victory was Gilmore’s fifth at Honolua Bay, her previous success in Hawaii in 2017 preceding her record-equalling seventh world crown in 2018.
“There definitely is a little pattern, whoever wins Maui goes on to win the world title the next year,” Gilmore said after her record-extending 31st tour win. “I did that in 2017 and won 2018, Carissa (Moore) won here in 2018 and won this year. There is definitely a little something going on here … let’s see.”
Out of contention for this year’s series crown going into Hawaii, a relaxed Gilmore took out world No.2 Caroline Marks in the quarter-finals on Monday to end the teenage American’s world title hopes.
That victory sealed a fourth world crown for Hawaiian Moore, whom Gilmore defeated in a high-quality semi-final 15.94 to 15.07. In the decider, Gilmore had the two highest-scoring waves as Wright came up short.
“I wasn’t expecting to get this sort of result but I just love Honolua Bay… I have an amazing relationship with this place,” Gilmore said. “Without stressing about everything i just let it kind of happen … this is awesome.”
Gilmore’s performances this season have already been rewarded as she provisionally qualified as one of Australia’s two women’s representatives for the Tokyo Olympics.
For Wright, returning to WSL action after a 17-month absence through illness, her comeback couldn’t have gone much better.
“I feel very lucky and grateful to be here today,” she said. “It was only a couple of months ago I was still in a rough place.”
The two-time world champion advanced to the final by overcoming France’s Johanne Defay in the last eight before she proved too good for Brazil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb in the semi-finals. Wright proved she will be among the contenders again in 2020, after back-to-back world crowns in 2016 and 2017.
Earlier on Monday, Australian duo Sally Fitzgibbons and Nikki Van Dijk were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Weston-Webb and Moore respectively.