STEPH’S FRENCH HIC­CUP

Ti­tle race moves to Maui af­ter lo­cal hero bows out

Tweed Daily News - - FRONT PAGE -

AS THE swells re­mained placid in Hossegor and with the France Roxy Pro frozen on standby, it felt like the slug­gish weather all week was only de­lay­ing the in­evitable.

Stephanie Gil­more, the six-time world cham­pion out of Kingscliff, has been that good in 2018 that it seemed silly to forecast any­thing other than an­other podium fin­ish in France and, con­se­quently, a corona­tion to a record-ty­ing sev­enth world ti­tle crown.

Only need­ing to fin­ish ahead of her main ri­val tour ri­val Lakey Peter­son to com­plete her epic pur­suit of Layne Beach­ley’s ti­tle record, Gil­more failed to fin­ish in the top two places in round three that would have seen her progress to the quar­ter-fi­nals

Gil­more re­quired an 8.33 to progress in the dy­ing min­utes, but came up 0.6 of a point short on her last wave. The loss clearly rat­tled the ha­bit­ual op­ti­mist, who knew she had blown a golden op­por­tu­nity.

“It’s the worst feel­ing, ever,” she said, tear­fully.

“You are try­ing so hard and there’s so much pres­sure.

“I’m emo­tional, but that just shows how much I care about it. It st­ings and it hurts, but now it’s all about Maui.”

She wasn’t the only one feel­ing the pres­sure. The good news for Gil­more was that Peter­son, who sits in sec­ond place on the WSL leader­board, also fal­tered in her round three con­test.

“I let my mind get a hold of me,” Peter­son ad­mit­ted in a mo­ment of can­dour af­ter fail­ing to cap­i­talise on a Gil­more’s trip-up and gain ground head­ing into Maui.

“I felt like the chips were fall­ing into place.

“I let a cou­ple of things get in my head too much and that af­fected the con­trol of the heat.”

Go­ing into Maui, the fi­nal tour event of the sea­son, Gil­more has hung onto her 6865-point lead over Peter­son, with the fate of a po­ten­tial sev­enth world ti­tle, and her first since 2014, firmly in her hands. Peter­son would have to win the fi­nal event of the year and Gil­more bomb out in the first round to keep that from hap­pen­ing.

But, see­ing as France was the first time in 2018 Gil­more failed to make the quar­ter-fi­nals, there seems lit­tle chance one of the world’s great­est ever surfers, who has won six of these be­fore, will slip up again.

PHO­TOS: WSL / DAMIEN POULLENOT

STILL ON TOP: Steph Gil­more failed to seal her sev­enth world ti­tle in France last week.

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