BUY 1, GET 1 FREE TODAY!
The action’s heating up on the WSL’s Championship Tour, as the world’s best men’s and women’s surfers battle to wrest early control of the Jeep Leaderboard. Coming off the 50-year storm in Bell’s Beach, contestants arrived in Keramas, Bali, Indonesia from May 13 - 25 to test their mettle amidst the waves of Corona Bali Protected (tour stop #3).
The result? Well, the event certainly delivered, with a return to glory and a historic result on the women’s and men’s side, respectively.
Aussie Stephanie Gilmore—already a seven-time WSL champion—came into Bali Protected ranked 5th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
She made sure that sure as hell didn’t last long.
Gilmore blasted through the draw, ending the hopes of American Courtney Conlogue in the quarters and fellow Aussies Nikki Van Dijk and Sally Fitzgibbons in the semis and finals, respectively. Her bout with Fitzgibbons came amid perfect Bali barrels, and while Fitzgibbons put forth quite the effort, Gilmore capitalized on the longest tube of the heat to manage the only Perfect 10 ride of the event—and only the second all season.
“I can’t believe this, I just can’t,” Gilmore said. “I knew Sally (Fitzgibbons) was going to be out there looking for barrels, but I just had to stick to my game plan and find the right waves and make the best out of them. At the end, I was thinking ‘Just get the excellent range’ because I haven’t really done that all event and I just kept thinking about then pulled the trigger on that one and just closed my eyes and held my line and then I came up. It was so cool.”
Gilmore’s victory marks the 30th CT win of her storied career and shoots her up to No. 1 on the leaderboard, supplanting 17-year-old American, Caroline Marks.
After breezing through the qualifying round, Blenders rep, Lakey Peterson, fell to Australia’s Bronte Macaulay in the Round of 16. While the result was a disappointing one for Lakey—she took top honors in this same event one year ago—she’s eagerly looking ahead to the upcoming Margaret River Pro CT event.
Ever wonder what a pro surfer’s life is like when they’re not actively on the waves in competition? Check out Lakey’s Bali Protected vlog she released in coordination with the WSL.
While Stephanie Gilmore’s women’s victory may have been a “Perfect 10,” it was Kanoa Igarashi’s triumph that proved historic.
The 21-year-old Igarashi didn’t let his veteran contenders into his headspace. Instead, he calmly took down the likes of Adrian Buchan (AUS) in the quarters, 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) in the semis, and Jeremy Flores (FRA) in the final.
As it turns out, it wasn’t just Igarashi’s first personal CT event title—it was also his home country’s first. The Japanese surfer is the first to formally represent Japan on the Championship Tour. The victory places him 2nd on the Jeep Leaderboard and in prime position to represent Japan at Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games.
“It all makes sense,” Igarashi said. “All of the hard work you do makes sense after this. My first round was so terrible. I didn’t catch any waves and I was just thinking what is the point of all of the hard work you do, all of the one percenters, all of the time in the gym, all of the time alone and surfing alone and now it all makes sense. This means so much to me. I can’t even find words to describe it.”
While that’s all for Bali, you can trust we’ll be dutifully following Stephanie Gilmore, Kanoa Igarashi, our own Lakey Peterson, and all the rest of the immensely talented WSL competitors at CT stop #4, Margaret River Pro in Western Australia, running from May 29 - Jun 9. Stick with us!