There are three women in play for the world title and they are stacked in three separate quarter finals of the Target Maui Pro. Five times world champion, Golden Steph Gilmore vs the effervescent sports nut Sally Fitzgibbons and the fearless powerhouse that is Tyler Wright.
Now you understand that there will be a new world champion crowned (probably today) at Honolua Bay, you will require the scenarios for a full appreciation of the drama about to unfold:
– If Gilmore makes the final at the Maui Pro she will win the world title.
– If Fitzgibbons wins and Gilmore finishes in 3rd place they will be tied.
– If Fitzgibbons wins the event and Gilmore finishes in 5th place, Fitzgibbons wins the world title.
– If Wright wins the event and Gilmore finishes 5th or below then they also are tied.
Notice the tied bit, how do they settle that? Pistols at dawn? Not quite, instead they will have a surf-off in pumping Honolua Bay to decide the world champion.
When we spoke to Steph about the world title scenarios prior to the event the possibility of a tie was already ticking in her mind.
"I don't think it's ever happened in ASP history." She told us "If there's a world title on the line and we tie – which is apparently a possibility with Sally and I. Then it'd be fricking exciting wouldn't it? I wouldn't mind surfing another heat at Honolua Bay if it's pumping and there's no one out."
Fitzgibbons is a competitive machine, one who has come runner-up too often and has the title in her sights. “The way I’ve structured all my events this season is to consistently build throughout the events, learn from my last performance, piece together what the judges are looking for and push the envelope and my own performance. A world title is definitely the ultimate goal. I’ve still got a shot so I’m going to throw everything at it.”
It's not just Sally whom Gilmore can tie with according to the ASP (hopefully they have checked properly), Steph can also tie with Tyler, a surfer she identified as the person she'd least like to surf against at Honolua.
"She's very strong, she's innovative, she knows how to get barrelled and she charges really hard." Said Steph, attributing it to Tyler's hardcore childhood. "She's had all that time growing up with brothers who have just pushed her over the falls on bombs on the South Coast of Australia."
Fortunately for her to win the title she will not have to face Wright, but will have to beat Carissa in the semis to win, assuming Steph beats Courtney Conlouge in the quarters. Which isn't a given. The plucky Conlogue who has recently returned from injury nailed a perfect 10 in her prior heat.
Third in line, Tyler Wright needs Steph to drop out against Courtney to be in with a shot and claims not to be too bothered. “Thinking about winning doesn’t really phase me. I just love catching good waves in excellent conditions, and that’s what it is out there. These are the best waves we’ve had all year. If I won the world title I’d celebrate with a massive dance party with everyone on the dance floor.
"I love having fun and playing around out in the water and that’s my carefree, lighthearted way to handle serious situations that aren’t really that serious."
The Honolua forecast is for a hefty sideswipe of swell to bump conditions up with the biggest sets in the morning albeit with a high tide.
Hooray, the women get the swell they deserve to finish up an epic title race and all thanks to Target, a brand who sponsor Kolohe Andino and Carissa Moore but you'll know better from the mall. You'll find their shop near an outlet of a surf retailer who can no longer afford to sponsor the ASP Women's World Tour. It was only last year that the female tour was done mid way through the year. 2014 in comparison is finishing on a high in Hawaii having added Trestles and Fiji to its roster.
“I’m so thankful that there’s an event here in Hawaii,” said reigning world champion Carissa Moore. “It’s really special be here and I think we’re all so happy to be able to finish off our season in Maui. It’s wonderful to have a huge sponsor like Target come in and support the women’s tour and Honolua Bay is one of the best right-hand pointbreaks in the world. It’s nice to change things up and be somewhere that makes your heart beat a little bit faster.”
If you want to tune into the pulse quickening finale to the women's title race then click here.
Target Maui Pro Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
Quarterfinal 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Quarterfinal 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Quarterfinal 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
Quarterfinal 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)