Stab Magazine | Stephanie Gilmore Validates Her Snapper Sovereignty
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Stephanie Gilmore Validates Her Snapper Sovereignty

The queen wins it all at the 2017 Roxy Pro.

news // Mar 20, 2017
Words by James Royce
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Raindrops, Mikey Wright’s Chrysler Valiant drop top, Stephanie Gilmore is the best surfer at Snapper Rocks and dropped everyone today to came out on top. Painfully outdated quip there, but perfect for describing today’s finals day action at the Roxy Pro, and too hard to pass up. 

In short: It poured rain the entire time, the waves were extravagant, the girls surfed at levels unheard of (just as good as the guys in most cases) and Steph proved, once again, why she’s one of the best surfers at Coolangatta’s beloved right-hander. Now, let’s dive in:

johanne defay quarters3

Johanne Defay silently chipped away at opponents all contest long, no different in the quarters.

Nikki Van Dijk and Johanne Defay ushered in the start of competition today, paddling out for the first heat of the quarterfinals. But, it was a rather lackluster affair. The clock hit midnight on Nikki’s Snapper run, and Johanne advanced with a 13.44 to Nikki’s 9.50. Lakey Peterson and Tyler Wright entered the water after them, and the Californian went for the jugular early on the former world champ. She combo’d several scores to put her at a safe 17.10. With only a combined 9.93 with three minutes left, Tyler, unfortunately, didn’t stand a chance.

lakey peterson quarters

Lakey’s forehand attack was her most prominent feature the whole contest, but she still found a few hangers.

“Great job to Tyler, she really inspired me last year after and was a driving force for me to get better and improve. A couple little things have made a huge difference for me, and I’m feeling great. I’m a lot more power-based of a surfer, and not super light on my feet, which is great at a wave like Snapper as I can take advantage of the bowl.”  

“To be honest, it’s amazing to see Lakey firing off this year,” said Tyler. “We missed her last year, and to see her get a high seven and a nine, it was pretty hard to get back on the front. It’s not like I didn’t do anything out there, but I made a couple mistakes that were little enough to make a difference.”  

On the latter half of the quarterfinals, Sally Fitzgibbons and Keely Andrew took to Rainbow Bay. Sally went off to a quick start, sacrificing a larger outside set for an inside runner, which picked up a score of a 6.70. Keely was consistent, but her safe, score-cushioning approach wasn’t enough to counteract Sally’s more critical scores picked off both during and between the sets.

sally fitzgibbons quarters3

An honest display from Sally Fitzgibbons.

“I think that’s why we train so hard,” said Sally. “I love putting a jersey on and the heat of the battle, it was a good chess match out there and there were times when Keely had me against the walls. It felt really good to produce the goods.” 

In the final heat of the quarters, Carissa Moore and Stephanie Gilmore met in a rematch of their round three (sans, Bronte Macaulay) battle. Carissa started off with a 6.33 buffer, but Steph caught up with a 5.33 of her own, picking off a set in the downpour. Carissa immediately shot back, though, finding a barrel twice-through on the following set for a 6.17. However, Steph returned Carissa’s fire with a howitzer, rattling off four huge hits on a vertical drainer down for the point for a perfect score. With only a combined 13.83 to Steph’s 17.50 with 23 seconds left, Carissa didn’t stand a chance.

“I was actually getting a flustered at the beginning there,” Steph remarked. “Carissa was definitely creeping into my head and on my tracks, but there were plenty opportunities. The ones that didn’t look that good ended up being good and I was lucky to find that last one and put everything into it.”

In the first semifinal of the day, Lakey Peterson and Johanne Defay went head-to-head. Lakey continued her impressive performance, switching on off the horn and locking down a safe combo with an 8.67 and 6.50. Her competitor, Johanne Defay, only groveled through a 2.33 and .90, putting her in a rough starting situation at the start, as she needed a combined 15.18 to better Lakey. She got herself out of the combo situation with a 5.50, but that was her highest score of the day, and certainly not enough leverage against Lakey, who finished the heat with an 18.60 compared to Johanne’s 13.70.

lakey peterson semi

Lakey’s power game on display.

“I got one of those ones that hit the Little Marley section perfectly, so it was hard to mess it up,” said Lakey after the heat. “I’m just surfing loose and free, I’m just enjoying it.” 

The concluding semi between Steph and Sally started off tight, with the first waves being scored a 5.50 and 5.40, respectively. A majority of the exchange was a back-to-back affair. That was, until Steph found a huge 8.77, dropping in on a late set and hammering it multiple times and finding some coverage from the rain on the inside section. Which was too much for Sally, who couldn’t claw her way out of the 1.41 deficit, needing an 8.35 to do so.

steph gilmore quarters

The last thing you worry about while surfing is getting wet.

“Lakey has just been on a tear,” said Steph, looking forward to her finals matchup against the American. “If I focus on myself and go out there with a clear mind, though, it will work itself out.”

The awaited final kicked off in stormier conditions, with the wind scrambling the previously clean Snapper faces. Steph started off with a bang, dropping an 8.67, which could have easily been a 10 had she not slipped at the end.

“It’s amazing watching Steph perform, someone had to stand up from home,” said Mick Fanning halfway through the heat. “Steph’s been surfing incredibly, Lakey as well, she’s put up an amazing performance throughout the event, I wouldn’t put her off.” 

Lakey, again, was persistent. But her strong forehand attack wasn’t enough to combat Steph’s smooth offensive. With a few minutes left, she needed a 9.77 to beat the Queen of Snapper’s combined 16.60, compromised of a 7.93 and 8.67. And was unsuccessful in doing so, giving Steph the win.

steph gilmore finals action

Victory lap.

“It always feels good when a Coolie kid wins here, and I’m so happy to have support from home and friends here,” Steph remarked afterwards. “The fans here are the ultimate surf fans, coming out in the rain, sun. and dark. Every time you walk down the beach they’re always cheering you on, it’s great to have them here.”

When asked how it feels to be the new world number one, Steph replied: “The yellow jersey, wow, haven’t had that for awhile, that definitely feels good. In terms of the world title, being only one event in, it’s so far from here. But, the stats of those who win who go on to win it all are pretty good… they always go on.”

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