"I had dreams of an Olympic medal and a World Title, and I had to sit back and watch Carissa win it all."
2021 didn't work out to plan for Stephanie Gilmore. At the start of the year the 30-year-old had two big career goals: bag a Gold Medal at surfing's Olympic debut and win her eighth World Title, which would see her surpass Layne Beachley as the greatest female competitive surfer of all time.
"It was a bit of a shocker though," Gilmore told the WSL whilst in Hossegor checking out the ROXY Pro France. "I made the Final in Margaret River, and won the last event in Mexico, but in the rest of the events, I didn't perform to my ability. It was a heartbreaking year in many ways."
The good news for Gilmore, and surf fans all over the world, is that she is nowhere done yet trying to go for that 8th World Title. Having washed off the disappointment of her first-round loss in the WSL Finals, she is now focusing on 2022.
"I'm as hungry and competitive as when I started," Gilmore says. "And if I needed any more incentive, the schedule for next year looks incredible. To surf waves like Sunset, G-Land and Jeffreys Bay with just one other surfer is a dream. That's always been a big driver for keeping me on tour."
With the CT schedule also taking in Supertubes in Portugal, Teahupo'o, and Trestles, as well as the WSL Finals in a location yet to be confirmed, it seems the Dream Tour is very much on. For Gilmore, who thrives when the waves turn dreamy, you can understand her excitement. However, with the CT season kicking off at Pipeline and Sunset, there is also some element of trepidation.
"I think the last time we had a competition at Sunset was back in 2008, and I won," she said. "It's such a test of your surfing, fitness and courage too. It can be terrifying, but that's the challenge. I can't wait."
Pipeline though is a different beast, and by her admission, it is a wave she has spent very little time surfing. As the first event of her record-breaking quest, it will however be crucial that she gets a result there.
"The only way to get better at Pipeline is to surf Pipeline. There are no cheat codes," she said. "I'm aiming to go to Hawaii for the whole of January and spend as much time as I can out there. The aim is to try and get barreled, and be as prepped and confident for the event and the year as possible."
We're now only three short months away from the start of the 2022 Championship Tour season, and based off what we're hearing, Gilmore's going all in.