Gilmore, seven-time WSL Champion, came into the Corona Bali Protected sitting in 5th place on the Jeep Leaderboard, searching for a result above Equal 5th in 2019. Gilmore powered through the draw and defeated Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in the Final, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in the Semifinals, and Courtney Conlogue (USA) in the Quarterfinals.
Gilmore’s Final with event standout Fitzgibbons was an epic battle in perfect barrels at Keramas. Fitzgibbons hunted the tubes but struggled to find an exit, leaving Gilmore to control the heat with two mid-range scores until the final minutes when Gilmore utilized priority to take off on a set, hit the first section, pull into the longest tube of the heat and come out to attack the closeout. Her wave was the first and only Perfect 10 point ride of the event and only the second of the 2019 season.
“I can’t believe this, I just can’t,” Gilmore said. “I knew Sally (Fitzgibbons) was going to be out there looking for barrels, but I just had to stick to my game plan and find the right waves and make the best out of them. At the end, I was thinking ‘Just get the excellent range’ because I haven’t really done that all event and I just kept thinking about then pulled the trigger on that one and just closed my eyes and held my line and then I came up. It was so cool.”
Gilmore’s impressive win in Bali was the 30th CT victory of her career and rockets her to World No. 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard, overtaking 17-year-old Caroline Marks (USA). The Australian now wears the Jeep Leader Jersey heading into the Margaret River Pro next week.
“I didn’t know that it was possible for me to go to the top of the rankings, so I’m so stoked with that,” Gilmore continued. “I was wearing yellow this week and painted my nails yellow so I made my intentions pretty clear. I don’t know what Margaret River is going to deliver, but I’ll be going there to do my best and just hope I can hold on to the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey all year. This is just amazing.”
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) finished a gallant runner-up in what was her first CT Final in 20 events when she took out the Margaret River Pro in 2017. Renowned for her ability and commitment in the tube, Fitzgibbons was always a threat at this event title. Fitzgibbons did progress through the Semifinals when she took down 2019 CT Rookie Brisa Hennessy (CRI) in a rematch of the World-Title-deciding Maui Pro in 2017. This result moves Fitzgibbons into 5th place on the Jeep Leaderboard and she still hunts for her maiden WSL World Title.
“Today was a super dreamy day,” Fitzgibbons said. “It was an awesome build up with a few lack-luster days before this but due to the forecast, we waited a bit so there was some anticipation for sure. When you wake on finals day and there are barrels on offer there is this energy that’s flowing around which is cool. At this point of my career, I just love being surrounded by amazing surfing as it inspires me as to what’s possible and on a day like this to get some tubes and share a final with Steph was cool. Now I’m looking forward to getting back to Margies.”