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Will Lemoore Open Another Door for Women?

The caliber of women's surfing is higher than ever these days, with top-tier stars becoming more popular than ever. And if the results of Tuesday's test event in Lemoore, Calif., are any indication, the pace of that progress is only going to accelerate when wave machines enter the equation. One of the most intriguing findings in Lemoore gave credence to the long-running thesis: The better the waves on which women get to compete, the more mind-blowing their performances can be.

Carissa Moore of Hawaii surfing at the Future Classic in Lemoore, CA, USA Carissa Moore WSL / Sean Rowland

First, some context. The event in Lemoore was different from a standard Championship Tour event. In traditional events, surfers have no limit on how many waves they're allowed to catch in a heat, but only their top two scoring rides count. This means they're free to take a few extra gambles if conditions allow for it. In Lemoore, that model was flipped. With perfect waves 100 percent guaranteed, each surfer had two shots to rack up a big score on a left, and another two shots to do the same on a right. Their best-scoring left and best-scoring right comprised their total heat score.

Johanne Defay of France surfing at the Future Classic in Lemoore, CA, USA Johanne Defay WSL / Kenneth Morris

That tweak alone added significant weight to every wave ridden, and the drama was palpable, because mistakes became fatal for scorelines, just as they are in the Olympics. The surfers got to grasp what it would feel like to train for four years and get that one chance at glory.

In this setting, based on Tuesday's performances, the wave pool could potentially host a contest that pits men and women against each other in a mixed-gender competition.

Highlights From a Magical Day On The Surf Ranch
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Tuesday at The Surf Ranch in Central California was a milestone moment for professional surfing.

Behold Exhibit A: The 20 highest-scoring rides of the test event. As you can see, four of the top 10 rides went to Stephanie Gilmore, and five of the top 10 by women. So if surf contests of the future can feature combined results, the way that marathons do, would that be a fun thing to add?

TOP 20 HIGHEST SCORING RIDES FROM THE FUTURE CLASSIC

    1. Filipe Toledo 9.83
    1. Stephanie Gilmore 9.77
    1. Stephanie Gilmore 9.67
    1. John John Florence 9.63
    1. Stephanie Gilmore 9.57
    1. Stephanie Gilmore 9.27
    1. Filipe Toledo 9.10
    1. Gabriel Medina 8.97
    1. Filipe Toledo 8.93
    1. Tyler Wright 8.83
    1. Gabriel Medina 8.80
    1. John John Florence 8.73
    1. Carissa Moore 8.70
    1. Carissa Moore, Ace Buchan 8.60
    1. Gabriel Medina 8.53
    1. Tyler Wright, Kanoa Igarashi 8.50
    1. Carissa Moore 8.30
    1. Tyler Wright 8.17

FINALS RESULTS COMBINED

  1. Gabriel Medina 16.87
  2. Filipe Toledo 16.60
  3. Carissa Moore 14.37
  4. Stephanie Gilmore 13.37
  5. Ace Buchan 13.20
  6. Kanoa Igarashi 13.00
  7. Tyler Wright 12.90
  8. Johanne Defay 12.10
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