A competitive fire has been stoked as the Top 17 kick of the 2016 season. But two surfers in particular seem to be burning hotter than most, and today they met in the Roxy Pro Gold Coast Quarterfinals for the second time in the event. We wouldn't usually see Stephanie Gilmore and Tyler Wright match up before the Semis, but Gilmore's seed as an injury wildcard meant an early look at potential Title implications.
Having missed the majority of last season, Gilmore is back in a big way, gunning for World Title No. 7 -- a number that would match Layne Beachley's record -- and Wright has made her drive for surfing's greatest honor clear.
They've both been strutting some of their best stuff at Snapper. Wright has been consistently dominant. She's won each of her heats, meaning before the Quarterfinals she had only surfed twice. An excellent-range score in Round 1 and a big nine-pointer in Round 3.
Gilmore, on the other hand, has had to surf each round, but earned the season's first nine-pointer -- a 9.87 in Round 2 -- and complemented it with the highest score of the event so far -- a 9.9 -- for the highest heat total so far.
But in the end it was Wright's momentum that carried over in the late stages of the competition. She had already topped Gilmore in Round 3 and showed no sign of letting up. Once she reached the excellent-range, she posted a solid backup to hold on to the end. Not that her opponent didn't put up a fight: Gilmore was 1.27 short of the winning tally.
Something tells us it'll be a close race to the finish line, and plenty of drama along the way.