Stephanie Gilmore
Stephanie Gilmore

Tussle to be No.1 in the surf

STEPHANIE Gilmore fell at the final hurdle in pursuit of an unprecedented third title and valuable ratings points at the Peru Classic in Lobitos yesterday.

Kingscliff’s reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion and two-time defending event winner in Peru had been at her blistering best through the heats, quarters and semi-finals, but was out-surfed by home-town hero Sofia Mulanovich in the main event.

In a hard-fought final, Mulanovich muscled through one section after another on her backhand, to post an impressive 15 (out of a possible 20).

While the lead see-sawed back and forth between the pair, and Gilmore would lead with a 14.74 in the closing stages, it was ultimately Mulanovich who came away with the win in front of a raucous crowd on the sand.

“I have wanted to win this event for so long, and have always been disappointed,” Mulanovich said.

“To do it here, in front of my friends and family and in good waves at Lobitos is a dream come true. Viva Peru!”

The win boosts the 2004 world champ from fourth to third on the tour ratings and puts her within striking distance of the crown heading into the business end of the season.

However Gilmore’s third runner-up finish of the season, widens the 21-year-old’s lead after round five of seven.

“I’ve definitely been pretty consistent with making finals,” Gilmore said.

“Obviously I was looking for another win, but in a way, it is pretty special to see Sofia (Mulanovich) win in front of thousands of Peruvians..

“It was good to see Sofia up there and not Silvana (Lima – No.2 on ratings) or Coco (Ho – No.3 on ratings), and it is going to make the ratings really interesting and tight between everyone.”

Gilmore retains a slender lead over her challengers on 4765 points, as she competes for a third, consecutive world title, with Lima hot on her tail with 4188 pts, and Mulanovich tucked in behind on 3891 pts.

The next stop is the Gidget Pro at Sunset Beach, Hawaii from November 24.

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