On Tuesday, Greg Long asserted himself as the most dominant big-wave surfer in the world. Wednesday it was Stephanie Gilmore's turn to make a statement. With her victory at Honolua Bay, she's now won the Billabong Pro Maui for three years running, has a two-year stranglehold on the Triple Crown, and a week prior secured her third World Title. Like Greg, she came to Hawaii this year and secured her legacy.
"Once again, Maui has just been incredible and to win this event three times in a row is just awesome," said Gilmore. "I couldn't have been happier with the way things have gone today. Winning the Vans Triple Crown is definitely up there with winning the World Title and it's definitely one of the biggest accolades of surfing professionally. I can't believe it's all happening again, it's awesome."
Clearly the form surfer of the day, Gilmore posted the highest heat total of the entire 2009 tour with a near-perfect 19.67 over Samantha Cornish in the quarterfinals and never looked back. Neither 18-year-old phenom Sally Fitzgibbons in the semis, nor 2004 World Champ Sofia Mulanovich in the final could derail one of the most dominating Hawaii campaigns in recent memory -- male or female.
Gilmore's performance may have been the headline coming out of Maui, but the conditions themselves were definitely worthy of note. Tuesday, as the world tuned in to the eighth-ever running of the Eddie Aikau Invitational and Jaws topped out at a legit 40 feet, Honolua Bay sucked in perfectly groomed 8-to-10 foot barrels. Conditions were, in a word, spectacular. And while the size dropped dramatically on Wednesday, the quality was hardly diminished.
"The waves were a lot smaller than yesterday, but it was still good," described semifinalist Silvana Lima. "Sometimes the heats were slow, but the conditions were still great."
As good as it is to end the season on a positive note like the Billabong Pro Maui, the fact remains: Regardless of conditions or location or the size of the stage, Gilmore goes out and gets the job done. Like Greg Long's brilliance in the big-wave realm, there's not a girl out there who can touch her right now.
Billabong Pro Maui presented by Hawaiian Airlines Final
1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 18.00
2: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 10.17
Billabong Pro Maui presented by Hawaiian Airlines Semifinals
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.03 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.94
Heat 2: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 13.83 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.70
Billabong Pro Maui presented by Hawaiian Airlines Quarterfinals
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.83 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 15.83
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 19.67 def. Samantha Cornish (AUS) 7.26
Heat 3: Silvana Lima 16.70 def. Melanie Bartels (HAW) 7.20
Heat 4: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 12.77 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 6.50