Stephanie Gilmore will chase her first world surfing tour event win in 20 months on Tuesday afternoon after reaching the final of the season opener on the Gold Coast.
Five-time world champion Gilmore overcame defending world champion Carissa Moore in a blockbuster semi-final at Snapper Rocks to set up a decider with South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag.
Gilmore hasn’t won a world tour event since she claimed her 2012 world title with a victory in Biarritz, France in July of that year.
The 26-year-old, a four-time winner of the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast, was too good on her home break for 2011 winner Moore.
Gilmore scored 17.10 out of 20, including a 9.00 wave, to end Moore’s tournament after the diminutive Hawaiian could only score 13.40.
A Coolangatta local, Gilmore said surfing on her home break always gave her a boost.
“I feed off it. Everyone down the beach here, cheering. Running out to the beach and high fiving all of the kids, it’s an incredible feeling,” Gilmore said.
“I surf this wave almost every day when I’m at home so it’s a pleasure to come here and surf it in a contest.”
Buitendag booked the first final of her tour career by defeating American Lakey Peterson in the other semi-final.
The second-year tour professional scored 15.90 out of 20 to pip Peterson and Gilmore was wary of the in-form 20-year-old.
“Bianca has put in an outstanding performance. Perhaps the best of her career,” she said.
“It’s going to be hard but I’ll do my best.”