WAVE OF SUCCESS: Steph Gilmore turned on her signature style to increase her world tour lead at the Vans US Open of Surfing in California at the weekend.
WAVE OF SUCCESS: Steph Gilmore turned on her signature style to increase her world tour lead at the Vans US Open of Surfing in California at the weekend. Sean Rowland

Gilmore turns the screw on main tour rival

ALTHOUGH she fell just short of her fourth tour victory of the season and 29th of her career, Kingscliff champion Steph Gilmore could call her second-place finish at the Vans US Open of Surfing in California at the weekend a job well done.

Finishing runner-up at Huntington Beach to Courtney Conlogue, it wasn't perhaps the knock-out blow to main tour rival Lakey Peterson that Gilmore was after, but it was certainly a gut-punch.

Stephanie Gilmore and Sage Erickson on the first day of the Vans US Open - Women's CT at Huntington Beach.
Stephanie Gilmore and Sage Erickson on the first day of the Vans US Open - Women's CT at Huntington Beach. WSL / STEVE SHERMAN

Going into the event with little separating them on the WSL Jeep Leaderboard, Gilmore, 30, has now opened up a 5200-point lead over Peterson after the crafty Californian could only manage fifth place, Conlogue knocking her out of the contest in the quarter-finals.

With only three events to go in the 2018 season, Gilmore now has one hand firmly on a record seventh world championship crown and first since 2014.

For Gilmore, the loss was bittersweet.

While it was her second runner-up result at the US Open, Gilmore knows the most essential task from here on in is to surf consistently and best Peterson in each event.

Stephanie Gilmore fluid over the wave at the US Open.
Stephanie Gilmore fluid over the wave at the US Open. WSL / KENNETH MORRIS

"A final's a final. Everyone starts with zero,” Gilmore said after the event.

"You have to be spicy to beat these girls. That local knowledge makes a big difference.”

Winner Courtney Conlogue, who won her first US Open in 2009 and is back to her best after injury woes, was brimming after the contest.

"It's so great performing in front of my hometown,” Conlogue said after besting the world number one.

"We spend so much time travelling during the season, and when you get your hometown vibe, there's nothing like it.

"You just absorb all that energy and use it as fuel for your fire.”

Steph Gilmore (53,375 points) sits atop the WSL Jeep Leaderboard in front of Lakey Peterson (48,175) and Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb (38,330) with the next tour event, the Californian Surf Ranch Pro, to be held in September.



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