"I was out there and I was looking at Steph (Gilmore) and I was thinking, ‘wow, I'm in the Final with Steph right now.'" That was a Carissa Moore, back in 2010, just after she had claimed victory at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
Moore's incredulous reaction was understandable. This was her rookie year on the CT and by her own admission the year had been much tougher than she had envisioned. At 18 years old, the natural footer had been balancing her final year of high school with competition -- the Hawaiian had in fact missed the previous event so she could attend her graduation ceremony.
Gilmore was also at the peak of her extraordinary powers. She had won the last three World Titles in succession. And with three CT victories in 2010, was already well on her way to claiming a fourth. No one had dominated women's surfing like this since Layne Beachley a decade earlier.
Yet despite Moore being a little starstruck, she entered the Final with confidence. This was her second Final of the year and she had already shown the type of talent that had, rightly as it turned out, seen her marked her as a future star of the sport. She was also the form surfer in Portugal.
A move on the Final's Day to Lagide, a lefthand reef break located on the northern side of the Peniche peninsula, where solid six-to-eight foot waves were being met with strong offshore winds was also beneficial. Her powerful backside surfing suited the conditions and in taking out Sally Fitzgibbons and Claire Bevilacqua she'd posted big heat totals.
However no one could have quite predicted the extent that she would dominate the Final. She posted a 9.17 early on, and backed it up immediately with a 8.27. Gilmore was quickly in combination and never came close to getting out of it. Moore had blown away the current World Champion.
"I'm really excited - my breath is taken away at the moment," Moore said afterwards. "I've just been trying to take it heat by heat and not think about it who I'm coming up against all event."
We can look back now and see that Final as a pivotal point in not only Moore's career, but in setting the template for the next decade in Women's surfing. Moore and Gilmore would go on to share many Finals and dominate the sport.
In the very next event Gilmore would claim her fourth successive World Title. By 2018 she'd have equaled Layne Beachley's record of seven. Moore would finish the decade with four. Since 2007 only one surfer, Tyler Wright, has been able to break their Title duopoly. Yet back 2010 in Portugal it was all to come.