With a rejuvenated schedule committed to quality venues (including the addition of Fiji, Trestles and Honolua Bay) and an unprecedented level of athleticism, the 2014 ASP Women's World Championship Tour (WCT) is at its most competitive juncture ever.
As the Tour's surfers prepare for their second-to-last competition of the year, the Cascais Women's Pro in Cascais, Portugal, the Top 4 in contention for the World Title are separated by just 3,200 points. Each surfer, including Australians Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore and Tyler Wright and Hawaiian Carissa Moore, has won two events this season and is within reach of winning the 2014 ASP Women's World Title.
Gilmore, however, is the only one of them who could win the World Title (potentially her sixth) this week in Portugal. Her crowning there would be possible only given a specific scenario:
Gilmore would need to win the event, with Wright finishing fifth or lower, and Fitzgibbons and Moore finishing third or lower.
If things do play out in Gilmore's favor, her points would be unbeatable regardless of what happens at the Target Maui Pro, the last women's event of the season. It should be noted that Gilmore will be entering that event as the defending champion.
Underpinning that scenario is the ASP rule that allows athletes to drop their lowest two results of the season from their year-end points totals. For Gilmore, that would mean currently dropping her 13th- and fifth-place finishes, leaving her with the best results of the Top 4 women on the WCT at present.
With a potential 20,000 points up for grabs for victories in Portugal and Maui, and the closest ASP Women's World Title race in history, the culmination of the 2014 season will be a hard-fought battle with historic results.
Tune in to the Cascais Women's Pro LIVE daily on this site to catch the high-stakes action from Portugal. The event window for the contest is October 1-7, 2014.