Anna Dimond, World Surf League
Lennox Head surf pro Tyler Wright just did it again.
The current World No. 1 yesterday won her fourth Championship Tour event of the season, taking out the Swatch Women’s Pro at Lowers in California like she was born at this beach.
The huge victory over Kingscliff’s Stephanie Gilmore brings her one giant step closer to becoming the 2016 World Champion.
‘I had one goal this year and that was to win every heat, and every Final,’ Wright said. ‘Regardless of what situation the ratings are in, that’s my goal and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m just doing what I’m doing.’
But Trestles, with its perfect canvas and secluded setting, can bring out the best in every surfer and there were impressive standouts throughout the contest. One was Sage Erickson, Wright’s Semifinal victim Wednesday morning. Wright surfed away with the win, but Sage made her work hard for it. Tyler won by less than half of a point.
‘Trestles is such a groomed wave that it lets you showcase your style,’ Erickson said. ‘So I love that the girls get to show that. [But] coming up against Tyler [Wright], you can’t leave it that close. All-in-all, I’m excited and ready for Europe.’
The women’s second Semifinal pitted another tour titan, Stephanie Gilmore, against another contest breakout, Nikki Van Dijk. Like Sage, Van Dijk’s talent has never been in question, but she’s rarely made it past the heavyweights. Maybe it was Trestles, maybe it was having nothing to lose. But Van Dijk kicked into a higher gear and took some scalps along the way.
Stephanie vs Nikki
Van Dijk kept the 6x champ on her toes in their Semifinal match at the Swatch Pro. But Gilmore battled back with a 9.50 to take the win.
In terms of new gears, however, there was no one as fired up as Stephanie Gilmore, who has had her own demons to out-surf this season. After making it to the Semis Monday she said she had gotten the ‘Quarterfinal monkey’ off her back, and seeing the 6x champ find her stride was a welcome sight for her friends and fans.
‘I feel like at this event I’ve found some clarity in my decision-making and what it takes to win,’ Gilmore said. ‘I’d just love to win an event. That’s the name of the game.’
Still, the contest — and perhaps the whole season — belongs to Tyler.
Wright was so focused, in fact, that she waited for almost half of the final heat before taking a wave — and when she did, she made it count. Gilmore was in better form than she has been all year, with a competitive zeal that has been in hibernation. She went for broke in the dying minutes with a 9.13, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Tyler’s lead.
Wright arrived at Lower Trestles wearing the Jeep Leader’s yellow jersey, reserved for the rankings leader. After today, she should feel that much more comfortable heading into the home stretch of the season.