Gilmore shows class
Kingscliff teenager Stephanie Gilmore beat the world's best surfers to win her maiden World Championship Tour event yesterday.
Gilmore, 17, defeated Hawaii's Megan Abubo in the final of the Roxy Pro after ousting her idol and six-time world champion Layne Beachley in a thrilling semifinal.
Cheered on by an estimated 10,000 fans, the Kingscliff High School student won the final with a score of 14 points out of 20 to Abubo's 7.10.
"Holy cow .?.?. my whole body's just like jelly. I'm just so happy," Gilmore said after she was chaired off the beach by fellow surfers, including the Tweed's Chelsea Georgeson and Trudy Todd.
"Just to get the chance to surf against my heroes is an achievement in itself and to beat them is just so overwhelming.
"I was just dreaming about this all week and for it to come true is just so cool."
Abubo, 27, took the lead early with a 5.17-point ride and it was not until the 22nd minute that Gilmore surged to the front with a stunning 9.33 point ride that included radical lip snaps and not one, but two barrels.
The Hawaiian tried to fight back but lost priority with four minutes to go, allowing the local girl to extend her lead.
"The ocean worked in my favour and it sort of slowed up," Gilmore said. "I wasn't expecting a nine again but I was just absolutely stoked."
Junior world champion Gilmore has been granted wildcards into qualifiers for three more WCT events, including the SPC Pro at Bells Beach later this month.
"I'm going to wait until I finish school and then try and qualify (for the tour) fulltime," she said.
Gilmore claimed the big scalps of world champion Sofia Mulanovich of Peru earlier in the tournament and then her fellow Australians in world No.9 Samantha Cornish and Beachley yesterday.
"As I was going through each and every heat my confidence was getting bigger and bigger," Gilmore said.
Gilmore collected $19,200 - two thirds of that for winning the event and the rest for claiming the longest tube ride.
She plans to put the biggest prize cheque of her short career towards a house.
Her impressive performances prompted Beachley to say Gilmore was better than her at the same age.
"She is so much better than I was at age 17," Beachley said. "I was very tenacious and competitive but I didn't have the ability that she has."