Gilmore crowned world champion

Keala Kennelly knocks off World No. 2 Sofia Mulanovich

by Lanaly Cabalo – The Garden Island

Kaua‘i’s Rochelle Ballard surfed her last wave as a professional yesterday. Keala Kennelly pulled an upset when she breezed past world No. 2 Sofia Mulanovich.

But the big show belonged to Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore who made history yesterday in the Billabong Pro Maui by becoming the first surfer to claim a world title during her rookie season.

Gilmore blitzed past Ballard to advance through to the quarterfinals after rival Mulanovich went down to wildcard Kennelly in a Round 3 elimination.

“Surprisingly, I did quite well to not watch Sofia’s heat at all, and I didn’t even know that Keala had won until right before my heat was about to start,” Gilmore said in a release. “That was interesting. I guess it was awesome for me. I was stoked. It pretty much just fired me up when I heard that, and then the next wave I got barreled.”

With Mulanovich eliminated, and following her win over the veteran Ballard, Gilmore needed fellow rookie Rosanne Hodge to defeat remaining contender Silvana Lima in the final heat of the day to seal the ASP Women’s World Title. 

With less than five minutes remaining, Hodge turned the tide with an incredible forehand assault on a roping righthander which would put her into the lead. The countdown to the heat ended with the raucous applause from the army of media and hundreds of spectators assembled on the beach.

Ballard announced earlier this week that the Billabong Pro Maui would be her final pro-surfing event, while Kennelly, after taking a break to work on her acting career, returned to the circuit.

On the men’s side, Kaua‘i’s Roy Powers and Gavin Gillette advanced to the next round in the Billabong Pipeline Masters. Brothers Bruce and Andy Irons are also still in the competition.

This is the final leg of the Vans Triple Crown.


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