Hawaii

Stephanie Gilmore Wins Women's Pipe Invitational

If Stephanie Gilmore would have been surfing in the Billabong Pipe Masters today -- as opposed to the Women's Pipe Invitational -- she would have posted the highest total heat score of the entire event, a stunning 17.00 points (with both a 9.0 and an 8.0 ride).

But, much to the relief of many a male competitor, she wasn't.

Stephanie Gilmore winning the Billabong Women's Pipe Invitational at Pipeine, Oahu, Hawaii. Stephanie Gilmore, Women's Pipe Invitational Champion - WSL / Tony Heff

Unfortunately for an out-of-rhythm Carissa Moore and wave-starved Tyler Wright, the 6-time World Champion appeared to take out her frustrations on her fellow World Champs after a disappointing 2016 competitive season.

"I waited all year to do it," laughed a relieved Gilmore. "I'm really happy to finally win something, especially against Carissa and Tyler 'cause I think they're the best in the world right now."

Gilmore looked like she was right at home in the punchy, overhead conditions at Backdoor, banging vertical snaps and stylishly skating over flat sections at will, scoring a 9.0 on her second wave.

Steph Gilmore's 9-Pointer
Stephanie Gilmore takes a commanding lead at Women's Pipe Invitational

"We're competitive. We may be out there laughing and chatting, but deep down we want to get the best waves," she told the WSL. "I love this heat, I wish it was barreling!"

For her part, Wright fought back midway through the heat, projecting hard off the top before dropping into a short tube on her best wave of the day. But it was too little, too late for the current World Champ. With just over two minutes left in the heat both Moore and Wright still required a two-wave combination to stop Gilmore's roll.

Women's Pipe Invitational Final
Tyler Wright vs. Stephanie Gilmore vs. Carissa Moore

Gilmore's been spending much of her time on the North Shore surfing Pupukea on a variety of equipment -- everything from twin fins to boogie boards -- and the Women's Pipe Invitational was her first surf at Backdoor all season.

"I'm feeling much stronger in my surfing now," Gilmore said. "This year my biggest letdown was that I wasn't choosing the right equipment all year, I feel like I'm already on top of that."