Fresh from stunning local favourite Stephanie Gilmore to book a quarter-final spot at the season-opening event on the Gold Coast, American Carissa Moore is expecting a bumper World Surf League title race in 2017.
Needing an 8.3 wave to beat Gilmore in in Friday’s third round of the Roxy Pro at Snapper Rocks, Moore made the most of Gilmore passing up priority to score an 8.53 after the buzzer and move straight into the last eight.
Moore’s 16.70 out of 20 was enough to beat six-time world champion Gilmore, who had appeared to be cruising into the quarter-finals when she compiled a two-wave total of 16.54 including a 9.17 opening ride.
The American said Gilmore’s form and the dominance of Tyler Wright on her way to last year’s world championship showed a high-calibre race loomed for this year’s women’s crown.
“I was mostly inspired by (Wright’s) mental approach. The approach she took into every event and every heat was all about her and she didn’t believe anything other than she could win and I think it’s pushed us all to surf better,” Moore said.
“I can tell (Gilmore’s) really fired up and excited. She’s totally in form … it’s going to be a crazy title race this year.”
Moore, a three-time world champion and two-time winner on the Gold Coast, was one of four surfers on Friday to book their quarter-final berths in solid conditions.
Defending event champion Wright (16.93) overcame American Lakey Peterson and Australia’s Nikki Van Dijk in her third-round heat, while France’s Johanne Defay posted the highest two-wave score of the round, 17.20, to also reach the last eight.
Last year’s WSL rookie of the year Keely Andrew is also into the quarter-finals, with the Sunshine Coast product surprising Sally Fitzgibbons in their third-round match-up.
Andrew dropped an 8.10 late in the heat to finish on 14.77, just 0.23 of a point ahead of Fitzgibbons, with American Courtney Conlogue finishing third on 13.53 in a tense heat.
Organisers will convene at 7:00am on Saturday to make a call on when to resume competition, with a potential finish to the women’s event possible if conditions hold.