The Women kind of blew it yesterday, after a much hyped swell arriving at Cloudbreak, organisers and competitors decided to run the event at Restaurants, an epic wave, but one that just wasn’t doing its thing. Meanwhile out at Cloudbreak, some of the women and most of the men’s world tour were charging.
So as they finished off round four it was pretty important the girls came out of the blocks charging, and they did. Title rivals Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright just unleashed on a series of triple overhead lefthanders. Fitzgibbons won, but not after both had pulled into some heaving pits.
After a hectic start, the second and final heat of round four just drifted through the first ten minutes with no waves, then after a restart was little better. It’s the thing about outer reefs, you can get a heat with ten sets, or none, in this case Hawaii’s Malia Manuel just edged a poor heat.
Looking back at these four you see who was most comfortable out at Cloudbreak, and who wasn’t. Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons both played the long game in their heats and when a bomb arrived, they destroyed it with tube rides and solid hacks. Sally had the advantage of Laura Enever breaking her board in a savage wipeout early in her heat, but never the less she was clearly gaining in confidence.
The other two heats were scrappy, and the waves ridden were pretty poor. This lead to the shock of the contest with world champ and current no.1 Carissa Moore being dumped out by top rookie Dimity Stoyle. In the other heat Malia Manuel snuck past Johanne Defay.
Heat one and Stephanie Gilmore left it late to beat Dimity Stoyle, but the win rarely looked in doubt. She had had a knack of picking off the best waves all the way through the contest, and even though her heat winner came on the buzzer, it never looked in doubt.
The second semi was undoutebly the heat of the event, probably the season so far. Malia Manuel and Sally Fitzgibbons had left all fear on the support boat, and charged. Boards were broken, there were some serious wipeouts, and Fitzgibbons nailed the tube ride of the event to move into the final.
It’s so often the way, you get two epic semis, the two best surfers of the event make the final, then it just doesn’t live up to what you’d hope. Sally and Stephanie were not to blame, the ocean just didn’t really deliver, and in a series of tight exchanges, Sally took her second win in a row.
That all means with Carissa Moore going out in the quarters what was looking like a one sided title race has now got a lot closer. Now exactly half way through the season for the girls all eyes turn to The US Open of Surfing in late July, if Sally or Stephanie can beat Carissa there, it’s game on.
Now all eyes switch to Sunday and the men’s event, there are two more solid swells on the horizon, a wide open world title race, and after the entree served to us by the women’s event, we’re all pretty amped for the men to get going.