Aussie Stephanie Gilmore has become an eight-time world champion, the most crowned women’s champion in surfing history.
Kelly Slater is the men’s GOAT with an unprecedented 11 world titles but Gilmore has finally passed fellow Aussie Layne Beachley’s record of seven world titles.
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Beachley won six straight between 1998 and 2003 before winning her seventh in 2006, but Gilmore’s have been much more spread out.
Having won her first four between 2007 and 2010, Carissa Moore has punctuated Gilmore’s win with five titles of her own and fellow Aussie Tyler Wright has two titles.
Gilmore won again in 2012, 2014 and 2018.
It was arguably the greatest win of Gilmore’s career.
Gilmore was facing relegation from the Championship Tour midway through the season and then only just snuck into the top five for the WSL Finals.
It meant Gilmore had to win past each of the top four ranked competitors in the world.
Gilmore edged past Brisa Hennessy and Tatiana Weston-Webb, before dominant displays against Johanne Defay and in both heats of the best-of-three title match against Moore for the world championship, sweeping all five heats.
Gilmore was overwhelmed after the result, breaking down in tears.
“I don’t have much left, to be honest,” she said in the water. “Oh my God, I visualised it so much and I was like, let’s do this. I have a chance. Let’s just prove this whole system wrong.
“If you can come from the bottom, come from fifth and win a world title, that’s freaking cool.
“But Carissa is the world champion to me this year. She had the best season ever, I’m so honoured to surf against her in this final. And … oh my goodness, I’m so dead.”
Speaking again after she was crowned and awarded the trophy, Gilmore was still in disbelief.
“I’ve won a lot of titles in different ways and this, to be honest, this was the best win I’ve had,” she said.
“To come all the way from fifth, and grind it out all the way from fifth all the way to the final. I knew it was possible and I could try to conserve some energy and make it work but I’m against Brisa and Tati, Johanne and Carissa and they’re my favourite female surfers.
“I’m stoked I had a shot at it and here we are. Anything’s possible, this is so cool.”
Gilmore again praised Moore and said it was “the greatest moment of her career” competing against the Hawaiian.
Gilmore also had a message for Beachley.
“Thanks for paving the way and showing us what’s possible,” Gilmore said.
“It was always been a dream of mine to win eight titles and it’s a really nice looking number. I actually didn’t think I was gonna get there but way, this is really special and I’m really honoured to be able to hold that record.”
The reaction was swift as Australia celebrated it’s surfing legend.
Broadcaster Andy Maher posted: “The Queen of Surfing”, as well as “Steph Gilmore. Epic.”
Surfwear brand ROXY tweeted: “Infinitely stylish, infinitely cool and definitively the Greatest Female Surfer of all time. History is made. 8 World Titles are hers today. Congratulations @Steph_gilmore! You really do embody the heart of surfing.”
Tennis reporter Jose Morgado commented: “Stephanie Gilmore, what a legend! 8th world title winning 5 heats in 4 hours.”