Mick Fanning may have been denied of his fairytale ending but fellow Aussie Stephanie Gilmore made sure that the day was memorable for her friend and the Australian crowd.
In a nail-biting finale at Bells Beach, Gilmore rose to the challenge and brought down Hawaii’s Tatiana Weston-Webb. The match between the surfers was so close that it literally went down to the last wave.
Gilmore initially thought that she had blown her chances when she gave up priority and let Weston-Webb take the wave in the last few minutes of the heat. Luckily for Gilmore, the wave was not big enough and the judges only gave Weston-Webb a 6.57 for her efforts.
“Of course I was stressing,” Gilmore said in an interview. “Of course it was a silly mistake. That was a crazy way to finish a final. I think I chewed off all my fingernails.”
According to her, Fanning played an important role in calming her down during the entire competition.
“In my semi, the same thing happened,” Gilmore recalled. “I was sitting there stressed and I saw Mick paddle out for this heat and it just sort of calmed me down a bit.”
“That’s what Mick is about. He’s always been there for everyone – to give you that little word of encouragement or advice. That’s why everyone loves him – more than his surfing.”
Following her win, Gilmore joins the elite group of four-time Bells champions alongside Kelly Slater, Mark Richards, and Mick Fanning. She is set to compete in a yellow jersey as the tour continues on its next leg at Margaret River.
“I like the yellow rashie. I want to stay in yellow a bit longer this year,” Gilmore finishes.
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