Tyler Wright is the 2016 Swatch Women’s Pro WINNER by defeating Stephanie Gilmore in the final. Photo WSL/Rowland.
Tyler Wright (AUS) claimed her fourth Championship Tour victory of the season in an all-Australian Final against six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS). The win sees Wright retain the Jeep Leader Jersey, increase her lead on the rankings and move her even closer to claiming her first World Title. The result puts her more than 7,000 points ahead of her closest rival Courtney Conlogue (USA) heading into the next event on the CT, the Cascais Women’s Pro. Wright dispatched Laura Enever (AUS) in the Quarterfinals, Sage Erickson (USA) in the Semifinals before facing Gilmore and taking her 9th career CT win.
“It’s been quite a journey from this point last year and a lot has changed this season,” said Wright. “It’s all come together and I’m absolutely loving it. I knew I had to get on the better waves facing Steph [Gilmore] in the Final. Surfing against her as someone I look up to is great, she’s still one of my surfing idols and inspires me to go after things my way.”
The two finalists have shared nineteen head-to-head CT match-ups, with Wright taking her 8th win over Gilmore. Wright opened her account with an excellent 8.50 and 6.37 to put the heat on the six-time WSL Champion. Gilmore charged with a progressive grab-rail attempt to combat Wright, but was not scored high enough to escape the combination situation. With time winding down, Gilmore locked in a 6.00, but still needed an excellent 8.87. With two minutes left in the Final, a set provided Wright and Gilmore one last opportunity. Wright was able to improve her 6.37 with an excellent 8.63 and take the win over Gilmore, despite her near-perfect 9.13.
“I set out with a goal this year and that’s to win every heat and win every final and I’ll go into the next events with that same goal and that same attitude,” Wright continued. “I’ve put a lot of work in and have probably the best team in the world right now. I’m really looking forward to the next event but I’m going to stick with my game plan.”
“It’s the World Title and I think I just decided that I wanted to go for it,” Wright said. “As soon as I decided that, I’ve done everything I know how and I went out and learned what I didn’t know. I’ve been in World Title races before but it feels so much different, I feel so much more comfortable and confident. It’s just flowing for me and I just feel good. I’ve got so much love behind me.”
Stephanie Gilmore placed runner-up to Tyler Wright in the Swatch Women’s Pro final. Photo WSL/Rowland.
Gilmore, who posted the highest heat total of the Swatch Women’s Pro in Round 4, previously defeated reigning three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) in the Quarterfinals, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in the Semifinals before taking on Wright in the Final. Today marks a return to form for Gilmore and is the first time since April last year that she has made it out of the Quarterfinals. The runner-up finish sees the 2014 event winner move up from 7th to 5th place on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I love this place and this wave so it’s really nice to come here and get a good result,” said Gilmore. “The World Title race is really heating up and it’s great to watch. Congrats to Tyler [Wright]! It’s so rippable here and such a fun wave. My goal is just to win an event this season. Since my injury I haven’t really put together a complete performance so we’ll see what happens heading into Europe and in Hawaii, which is a favorite.
“I was feeling really good, felt like my surfing was really good and Tyler was always going to be the toughest opponent in this event so of course it stings,” continued Gilmore. “I think any loss stings but it’s a great result. I’m happy about it and glad to move up the rankings a bit. I think this is great confidence building for me and I’ll move into Portugal feeling pretty good.”
Sage Erickson placed second in Semifinal Heat 1 against Tyler Wright at the Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles. Photo WSL/Rowland.
California-native Sage Erickson (USA) was eliminated by eventual winner Wright in the Semifinals. Wright got to work with a 3.50 and a 6.17, while Erickson waited patiently to open her account. Erickson’s patience paid off as she secured an excellent 8.17 on her opening ride and backed that up with a solid 6.00 on her backhand. The Australian fought back with a powerful 8.43 to better her situation and force the American to find a 6.44 with less than ten minutes to go. Erickson was not able to find the wave and will leave the event with a 3rd place finish. Today’s Semifinal berth is Erickson’s best result of the season following Quarterfinal finishes at both the Roxy Pro Gold Coast and Vans US Open of Surfing. Erickson remains at 9th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“It feels good to finish third, but I’m kind of annoyed at the same time,” said Erickson. “It’s been a lead-up, I’ve had two Quarterfinals this year and it felt good to best that out here — especially being in California. Trestles is such a groomed wave that it gives you a chance to showcase your style, and your surfing, so I love that the girls get to show that. Coming up against Tyler [Wright], you can’t leave it that close. If you want to beat the No. 1 or No. 2 you have to do it super evidently. All-in-all I’m excited and ready for Europe. I tend to do really decent over there so I’m looking forward to just focusing on the CT and not so much the QS.”
Nikki Van Dijk placed second in Semifinal Heat 2 against Stephanie Gilmore at the Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles. Photo WSL/Rowland.
Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) was defeated by eventual runner up Gilmore in her first-ever Semifinals appearance. Van Dijk dropped an excellent 8.17 to kick things off in Semifinal 2. The Australian kept busy with a 6.34 backup score, while Gilmore found a set out the back to earn near-perfect 9.50. Needing a strong second wave score, Gilmore locked in a 5.33 to control the heat. With ten minutes on the clock, Gilmore scored another incredible ride, a 9.10, to put Van Dijk in a combination situation. Van Dijk’s 3rd place finish is her best-ever Championship Tour result and sees her move up one place to 11th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
‘It feels amazing to get that Quarterfinal barrier out of my way,” said Van Dijk. “I was so hungry just then to make that Final. I made a couple of mistakes and I was pretty close. I just wanted to better my surfing and I’m stoked I got that 8, and I am just having a great time. I’m stoked to have had a great week and show what I can do. I really just want to keep it going into the next event.”
The next event on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour will be the Cascais Women’s Pro, which will see the world’s best female surfers head to Portugal from September 24th to October 2nd.
Highlights from the Swatch Women’s Pro and Hurley Pro available at WorldSurfLeague.com
Swatch Women’s Pro Final Results:
1 – Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.13
Swatch Women’s Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.60 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 14.17
2016 WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (After Swatch Women’s Pro):
1. Tyler Wright (AUS) 63,450