Gilmore excited by surfing tour changes

Melissa Woods
·2-min read

Seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore has no qualms about starting the new World Surf League tour away from her home break in Queensland, with the season opening in Hawaii next month.

The Hawaiian leg historically closes the year but the tour has changed the schedule and added new legs, including the title-deciding WSL Finals at Lower Trestles in San Diego in September.

Gilmore's first event is usually in April at the Gold Coast Pro at Snapper Rocks, followed by the iconic Bells Beach.

However the women will open at the Maui Pro at Honolua Bay from Dec 4 - 15.

The first men's event in Hawaii is the Pipe Masters at Banzai Pipeline in Oahu from Dec 8 - 20.

After spending the year surfing at home with the Tour shut down due to COVID-19, Gilmore said she was excited by the changes as she looks to improve on her fourth-placed finish in 2019.

"This is a completely new game-changing moment in our sport," Gilmore said.

"I've really enjoyed the time off but I'm looking forward to getting started at Honolua Bay because it is one of my favourite waves in the world.

"Although it's fantastic to start the year at home, it's exciting to shake things up."

The surfers will remain in the islands for the Sunset Open from January 19-28, which will be the first women's CT event on the North Shore since 2010.

They then head to the US mainland for a new addition, competing at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California, for the first time since 2012.

There are three events on the Australian leg: Bells from April 1-11, followed by Margaret River and then Gold Coast in early May.

Gilmore said she though the female surfers would embrace the big wave challenge at Sunset Beach.

Gilmore, 32, is also a fan of Lower Trestles, where the top five men and top five women at the end of the regular season will head to Orange County for a one-day, winner-take-all shot at the title.

"To head to the grand final for the world title to go down at Lower Trestles is really rad," she said.

"If you think about some of the greatest competitive arenas for world surfing you'd find a lot of surfers say that Lower Trestles is one of those places.

"There's equal opportunities on lefts and rights and it's very high performance so I think it will be amazing."