Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore is widely regarded as the greatest female surfer of all time, so it came as a surprise when the eight-time world champion started her title defense with an early exit at Pipeline in Hawaii.
Finding herself in the elimination round in the World Surf League’s Women’s Championship Tour season opener after a two-wave total of just 2.8 in her opening heat, Gilmore finished behind American teenagers Caitlin Simmers and Alyssa Spencer.
Simmers, a 17-year-old from California, scored a nerveless 7.00 and 5.67 for a total of 12.67 to finish top in the round, winning the round by 6.04.
Alyssa Spencer, 19, also from California, scored 6.63. It meant Gilmore’s score of 6.43 wasn’t enough to progress to the round of 16. The 35-year-old finished ranked 17th.
Simmers and injury replacement Spencer were both eliminated in the round of 16. The event continues.