In Bali, the color yellow is believed to represent happiness, prosperity and the hope for better life.
In a quiet moment before the start of the Corona Bali Protected, Stephanie Gilmore spent a few moments at a local salon, getting her fingernails painted yellow, and her finger-nailed forecasting paid off.
Gilmore has left Indonesia once again sitting atop of the Jeep Leader Board adorned in the yellow leader's jersey.
"I think my intentions were pretty clear," smiled Gilmore after winning the 30th CT contest of her already distinguished career -- a record in it's own right, more event wins than any other female surfer -- flashing her nails on camera.
The fact that she now sits in prime position to defend her 2018 World Title -- and chase a record eighth Title, establishing her legacy of the Greatest of All Time -- is one thing, but it's the statement-making way that she did it that will have the most immediate consequences.
Not only putting all her competitors on notice, Gilmore's perfect 10-point ride to end the Final has effectively set the bar for any and all potential perfect scores to come this season.
"I was sitting there at the end in the last five minutes things, man, just get something in the excellent range because I haven't really done that all event," Gilmore explained. "I just kept thinking about it and then I pulled the trigger on that one."
It's no secret that 10-point rides are harder to come by today than they ever have been. The running joke amongst competitors is that "7s are the new 9," referring to just how hard it has become to earn a score in the excellent range.
Gilmore showcased a dynamic, multi-pronged approach to perfection. After take-off, she leaned into a strong forehand carve, which set her up perfectly for the inside sprint. The second half of the wave was all surfed with instinct and feel.
Flying down the line, she cranked into a mid-face jam that would make iconic power surfers like Tom Carroll and Dane Kealoha proud. Hitting the breaks, she disappeared far behind the foam ball before blindly coming out of a waterfall barrel and smashing the end section, free-falling to the flats for a little extra flair.
"That inside was so dry, I didn't know if it was a good idea. I couldn't see anything. I just closed my eyes and held my line and came out and hit the end section," Gilmore said.
Speed. Power. Flow. Gilmore's wave had it all, and true to form, she did it with style and grace. She's now effectively set the pace for anybody else hoping to go perfect this year.
Prior to Gilmore's epic ride, there's only been one other 10-point score awarded all season: Courtney Conlogue's bomb at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. There have been no 10-point rides on the men's side.
The most apparent difference between Conlogue and Gilmore's rides is that Conlogue's score came, in part, because she caught the biggest and best wave of the contest at Bells. She carved a series of strong, open-face forehand turns, cementing the score with a powerful hack under the lip on the inside closeout section.
Gilmore surfed what was dealt to her with perfection, improvising like a jazz-great on what has been the most talked-about 10 of the year.
The ride also has helped her break out of a bit of a scoring slump. Prior to her 10-point ride in Bali, Gilmore had not even cracked the 8-point barrier all season long. Her highest scoring ride was in the Seeding Round at Bells, where she earned a 7.83 (and backed it up with a 7.67). What a difference a wave makes.
Gilmore's clearly shifted the momentum now as she heads back to Australia for the fourth spot of her 2019 campaign. She finished 3rd in the Margaret River Pro four times, including last year, but has never won it.
Historically, Conlogue has shined at Margaret River, winning the contest in pumping surf in 2015, finishing runner-up in 2016 and making the Quarterfinals in 2017. She was injured and did not surf the contest last season.
It goes without saying that there's lot of surfing left in 2019 and we're a long way off from seeing the World Title race come into focus, but one thing is for sure, from here on out it's going to take something truly special for a surfer to go perfect.