VIA – ABC AUSTRALIA
Moore’s surf title defence all but over
Updated April 20, 2012 21:17:09
Women’s surfing world champion Carissa Moore conceded her title defence was virtually over after failing to make the quarter-finals of the Beachley Classic, but a battling Stephanie Gilmore remained on course for a fifth title.
Hawaiian Moore (13.50 points), who is running third in the rankings, suffered a heartbreaking narrow loss to American Courtney Conlogue (13.55) in a fourth-round heat at Sydney’s Dee Why Beach on Friday.
Rankings leader Gilmore and her closest challenger and compatriot Sally Fitzgibbons are both through to the quarter-finals and, if either of them win the competition, it could well leave Moore with too big a gap to bridge with just three more events remaining on the 2012 calendar.
“I think that means I’m out of the race,” an emotional Moore said following her shock loss.
“Steph (Gilmore) has had a great year and I haven’t.
“Sally (Fitzgibbons) is still in a good place, too.”
Contestants enjoyed waves of up to two metres early in the day, but battled later and struggled as conditions deteriorated.
Gilmore had to win a fourth-round eliminator against France’s Justine Dupont after she finished second in her third-round heat behind Hawaii’s Malia Manuel, who she will meet again in the quarters.
Gilmore looked like totalling just 9.25 with her two high-scoring waves against Dupont, which would have been enough to win the heat, but she pulled out a 7.50 right at the end.
“I’ve been in round four a couple of times this year. I think I get too relaxed in round three and then let my guard down a bit, so I need to work on that,” Gilmore said.
“It’s really not a very good result if you lose in round four – you really want to get to the quarter-finals. I was stressing a little bit, but I managed to pull through.
“I love surfing Dee Why Point. It’s way more challenging than any wave we have on tour, because it’s like lumps and bumps and reef.”
Gilmore was one of five Australians to make it through to the last eight.
Fitzgibbons, who will come up against Conlogue in the quarter-finals, said she was feeling really strong and fresh after requiring just two heats to make the last eight.
“I think it’s always nice to be fresh heading into the quarter-finals. I definitely feel like I’ve got a lot of energy left,” Fitzgibbons said…
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