Catholic or Protestant, Sunni or Shiite, Brexiteer or Remoaner, there is one thing that surely we can all agree on, and that is the loveliness of Stephanie Gilmore.
The way she surfs, the way she carries herself, the way she smiles, the way she positions her rear knee just so; the way she teared up in her interview with Barton Lynch, shortly after winning her seventh world title: all lovely.
She surfed splendidly at Honolua Bay yesterday in the Beachwaver Maui Pro, and is once again the world champion, equalling the record set by Layne Beachley twelve years ago. Gilmore’s heat score of 16.16 was the highest of Round 1.
Meanwhile world no. 2 Lakey Peterson, who needed to win the event to have any chance of unseating Gilmore from the top spot, finished last in her Round 1 heat, and was knocked out of the contest in Round 2 after a fairly comprehensive defeat by Alana Blanchard. Peterson, if we’re to be honest, did not surf anywhere near her best; she looked nervous and out of sync, limbs flailing everywhere, mistiming turns and getting her wave choice all wrong. There was to be no dramatic finale.
Gilmore remains in the competition, after winning her Round 3 heat to progress into the quarters. Carissa Moore and Sally Fitzgibbons were the other standouts, the latter posting the day’s two highest scores with a pair of deep, dark green pits. In contrast to the nightmarish scenario playing out at Jaws on the other side of the island, Honolua looked like the pleasantest of dreams (though very tricky to surf, no doubt; a lot of waves went to waste one way or another).
Below is a reminder, in case you needed one, of Stephanie Gilmore’s silken majesty, filmed at J-Bay this year by longtime collaborator Morgan Maassen.