KINGSCLIFF schoolgirl Stephanie Gilmore yesterday claimed the under-18 girls' crown in the world's most prestigious junior surfing contest, the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in Tahiti.
Soon the 16-year-old will have to work out how to balance a booming surfing future with the demands of next year's HSC, but yesterday it was just time to celebrate sweet revenge after an interference penalty left her in fourth last year.
"I've been dreaming about winning this contest since last year and I've been working toward it the whole time, now to finally do it feels amazing!" said an obviously thrilled Gilmore.
"My mum, my auntie and my grandma, they came over for the week to support me and mum was crying as I came out of the water, as mums do."
Gilmore, who just 12 days ago was crowned the national girls' champion, was one of three Australians claiming a trifecta of world junior surfing crowns, with James Wood, of Lennox Head, taking out the under-18 boys' and Matt Wilkinson, of Copacabana, the under-16 boys'.
More than 170 surfers representing 24 nations competed in the annual event that culminated yesterday at Papenoo Beach in solid four-foot waves following six days of non-stop action.
Surfing with the polished, powerful and confident style that marked her an outright contender from her first appearance in Tahiti, Gilmore outclassed a spectacular field including finalists Karina Petroni (USA), Erica Hosseini (USA) and fellow countrywoman and defending Quiksilver ISA World Junior girls champion Jessi Miley-Dyer.