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The World Surfing Title Showdown Lowdown

The Women's World Surfing Title is header for the biggest showdown in women's surfing history. Photo: ASP

The Women’s World Surfing Title is header for the biggest showdown in women’s surfing history. Sally Fitzgibbons (left), Steph Gilmore (centre) and Tyler Wright (right) are all vying for the crown.

It is ironic that the much hyped and most anticipated ASP Women’s World Championship finale in recent history has started with a whimper. In a year that has witnessed huge advances in the Professional Women’ s Surfing Tour, Huey (the wave God) has gone on holidays for the first two days of the Honolua Bay contest that will crown the Champ. All swell forecasts are pointing towards a start over the next two days and for the Champ to be spraying the champagne by the time you are back at work next week.

The Women’s World Tour is finally back on the front foot after several years of neglect and degradation. The shakeup has led to an increased number of event stops and prize money. The women have more than held their own in what was a tour that simply coincided with the men’s tour the majority of the time. They showed that they were not out of place at the world renowned Fijian reefbreak of Cloudbreak and turned plenty of heads with their progressive surfing at world-class Trestles.

After a four year hiatus, the Women get the grand finale they deserve. The idyllic right hand point break of Honolua Bay (Maui, Hawaii) will play host to one of the closest title races in history.

So after nine tour stops we have 3 combatants left in the mix. They are all Australian and have been by far the most consistent on tour (winning 7 of the 9 tour events between them). So let’s take a close look at the three surfers and their chances of packing the Crown into their board bag at the conclusion of the event.

 

SITUATION AS IT STANDS:

  • If Steph makes the final = STEPH WINS
  • If Sally wins, Steph finishes 3rd = TIE – 1 heat winner takes all surf off!
  • If Sally wins, Steph finishes 5th or worse = SALLY WINS
  • If Tyler wins, Steph finishes 5th or worse = TIE

 

 

NAME:                                            Stephanie Gilmore

AGE:                                                26

HOMETOWN:                              Tweed Heads

STANCE:                                        Natural (regular)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:             5 x ASP Women’s World Champion

2014 RESULTS:                             1st (3).  2nd (2). 3rd (2).

2014 POINTS:                                64 200

SURFING CHACTERISTICS:     Stylish, flowing style ideally suited to right hand point breaks. A 2 time winner at Honolua Bay says it all.

HEAT 1 DRAW:                              Coco Ho (HAW) Paige Alms (HAW) – Wildcard

CHANCES OF WINNING:           In the box seat. Essentially 2 heats clear of her nearest rival – Sally. It is her title to lose.

 

NAME:                                              Sally Fitzgibbons

AGE:                                                   23

HOMETOWN:                                  Gerroa

STANCE:                                            Natural (regular)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:                3 x ASP Women’s Runner Up

2014 RESULTS:                                 1st (2).  2nd (2). 3rd (3).

2014 POINTS:                                     60 700

SURFING CHACTERISTICS:          Progressive and free flowing.

HEAT 1 DRAW:                                   Dimity Stoyle (AUS) Alana Blanchard (HAW)

CHANCES OF WINNING:                 If Steph falters, the consistency of Sally suggests that she will be there to pounce. Her worst finish this year has been a 5th.

 

 

NAME:                                                      Tyler Wright

AGE:                                                           20

HOMETOWN:                                          Culburra Beach

STANCE:                                                    Natural (regular)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:                        6 x time Tour Event Winner

2014 RESULTS:                                        1st (2).  2nd (2). 3rd (3).

2014 POINTS:                                           59 400

SURFING CHACTERISTICS:                Powerful and aggressive. A level above her competition when the surf is big and barrelling

HEAT 1 DRAW:                                        Laura Enever (AUS) Paige Hareb (NZL)

CHANCES OF WINNING:                     The rank outsider, a mathematical chance if she wins and both Sally and Steph are eliminated early

 

The pressure is on all three surfers, knowing that any stumble could see their 2014 dreams disappear. The 5 time World Champ Steph Gilmore has ice running through her veins and must be sending air kisses to the ASP hierarchy knowing that the World Title will be decided at a break that she essentially owns.

By far the most pressure is on the eternal bridesmaid – Sally.   The surfing she has produced throughout the 2014 season has been more than worthy of being World Champion. It will be up to Sally and her team to manage the pressure and make sure she surfs up to her potential.

If the right hand waves of Honolua Bay live up to reputation, it is hard to see either Steph or Sally being eliminated early on in the contest. Which could see Tyler’s World Title chances evaporate early on.

If Tyler is taken out of the running early, ironically this could make her the most dangerous surfer in the draw. The pressure will be off and she will have a renewed ‘nothing to lose’ attitude.

The other surfer that could throw a spanner in the works for the big two is former World Champ Hawaiian Carissa Moore. She finished the year just out of title calculation but it is almost inevitable that she will play a role in the outcome. It is foreseeable that she will meet either contender around quarter-final stage. It’s danger time!

Let’s not forget that if the surf gods see fit to throw a curve ball, we might just see a winner-take-all heat that will decide the title. It’s a definitely possibility! Now wouldn’t that be an amazing way to finish what has been a groundbreaking year for Women’s Surfing – well for fans anyway!

Good luck girls.

Stephanie Gilmore spoke candidly to Sportette editor Sam Squiers before flying to Hawaii watch the video here.

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