Date: Saturday, September 27, 2014
Schedule: Round 4 (Heats 1-4)
Conditions: 4-to-6-foot faces at Hossegor
Recap: Rounds 1, 2 and 3
Heat 4's surfers went hard straight away, exchanging high scores almost the immediately. Five-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore, fresh off a win at Trestles, connected snaps with on-rail carves for an excellent 8.83, while Lakey Peterson went after the lip with aggressive hacks for a six-pointer and a followup 7.50 to take the early lead.
Gilmore's second half rampage spelled big trouble for Peterson. The Aussie's 7.90 knocked Peterson from the lead, putting her in a combination situation in which she needed two new high scores. Gilmore then scores another excellent eight-pointer for a clean, aggressive attack. It put the win out of Peterson's reach, despite a solid two-wave total.
"Being in the lead is kind of hard because you're trying to defend something," Gilmore said. "But the pressure is really on the other girls to pull big scores. I'm trying to just improve on what I've done so it's a nice position to be in."
Result: Gilmore, 17.60, def. Peterson, 14.33
Nikki Van Dijk caught the first wave of the heat, but Bianca Buitendag was the first to earn a solid score. The South African attacked the lip with two vertical hacks for an excellent eight-pointer. A backup midrange score sent Van Dijk hunting two new big numbers early on.
She found the first one by stringing together solid carves. But with 10 minutes left, she was still chasing a near-perfect nine-point ride needed to overtake Buitendag. She narrowed the points gap with a midrange backup but still needed an excellent score, but couldn't make it happen before the closing horn.
"It's something you just have to get past," said Van Dijk, who was on a new board due to a theft the night before. "It doesn't really matter what you're riding. I love being here but I'm frustrated with how I surfed. I wanted to show off how I can surf."
Result: Buitendag, 14.00, def. Van Dijk, 9.70
Tyler Wright made a statement early on. Though she slipped off a rail-grab on her opener, she put Dimity Stoyle on alert that she was about to break out her power game. When the next two-wave set rolled through, Stole, a Tour rookie, found a soft wave to connect multiple roundhouse carves. But Wright was on a similar wave behind her, slicing it with fins-free hacks for the upperhand from the exchange.
Stoyle searched for open face to work with but her wave selection was lacking. She could only manage two-maneuver scores, which saw her fall further behind. Wright maintained her lead and won, to advance to the Quarters.
"That was a tough heat for me," said Wright. "It felt big but it was more of a mental thing than anything else. I'm working really hard out there. I'm finding the waves really hard to read and I'm missing a lot of sections I'd usually get."
Result: Wright, 12.66, def. Stoyle, 10.07
The opening exchange from the locals saw Johanne Defay come out ahead of the Pauline Ado, slicing up a head-high open face for a midrange score. Ado faltered on her opener but found a multiple-maneuver right to match the rookie's early score and overtake the lead with 10 minutes off the clock.
Defay needed a minor backup number to regain control of the heat, but she struggled to time her entries going into the second half. The set she was looking for came at a critical juncture: Defay took off on a right and finished with a powerful stomp to overtake Ado. Ado's answer came in just short of the 6.14 she needed and her dreams of a home-turf title came to a close.
Result: Defay, 11.77, def. Ado, 11.66