7x World Champ Stephanie Gilmore guaranteed the best result of her season thus far after eliminating Courtney Conlogue in the Quarterfinals of the Corona Bali Protected. Whilst Gilmore's surfing was as stylish and powerful as ever, it was her mental strength that was pivotal in her progression.
"My game plan was to not be patient and the next minute I was sitting there with nothing and seventeen minutes had passed," Gilmore said. "I just had to remind myself to not be freaked out by the situation and of the power of a strong mind."
Clarity of thought was the key in what was yet another tightly fought affair between the two natural footers. This was the 13th career matchup between the two rivals, with Gilmore just shading it 7-5 prior to today's win. Her average margin for a victory though has been just a point, while Conlogue's average winning spread was even less. It was no surprise then that this battle went to the wire.
"To be able to sit there and not be afraid to adapt to things has really helped me a lot especially today," the 31-year-old said. "I'm really lucky I got that wave at the end and even though I needed a six that was a big score in that heat."
Conlogue had been in control for the majority of the heat, however a priority mistake in the last five minutes opened the smallest window of opportunity to her opponent. Knowing that her other main contenders for a World Title had all suffered shocking early exits, it wasn't an opportunity that Gilmore was going to knock back.
Riding the same board that she claimed victories at Bells and J-Bay last year, the Australian took off on a set wave with less than three minutes in the heat needing a 6.41. Gilmore unleashed a vertical reentry and a trademark carve in the pocket, and even though she fell on the last section, scored a 7.23 to seal a Semifinal berth, her first of the season.
"I'm glad to make it past the Quarterfinals and into the Semifinals especially with the prospect of good surf tomorrow," Gilmore said. "That was a really big driving factor for me, the chance of getting really good waves tomorrow."
Gilmore's win today could be significant in her attempt for an 8th World Title. If she takes an event win at Keramas, she will go to the Margaret River Pro wearing the yellow jersey.
Two Quarterfinal losses at Snapper and Bells had put a dent in Gilmore's chance to eclipse the record seven titles she shares with Layne Beachley. However her performances over the course of this week, and especially today, has shown just why she is now back on track to be officially recognized as the greatest of all time.
Noteables and Quotables From Day 6 Of Corona Bali Protected:
-Costa Rican rookie Brisa Hennessy upset Carissa Moore to earn her career first Semifinal entry. "I knew I had to bring it in a heat against Carissa," Hennessy said. "She has been my idol since I started surfing, so I knew it was going to be a crazy battle and that I was going to have to bring my surfing because she was going to bring hers and be incredible no matter what."
-Hennessy did it the hard way, scoring the eight-point wave she required a minute before buzzer. "I knew I had to do some big turns all the way to the end. I'm really excited to be here surfing Keramas and to now be in the Semifinals." She will now face Sally Fitzgibbons in the upcoming Semifinals.