An all-Australian showdown in the final of France’s Roxy Pro remains a possibility despite championship leader Stephanie Gilmore losing an epic quarter-final to Hawaii’s Carissa Moore.
Both Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright advanced to the last four where they will face off against Moore and American Lakey Peterson respectively.
With nine world titles between the pair, Moore and Gilmore went back and forth with the lead, slowly improving their respective scores before Moore bagged an incredible 9.10 as the clock wound down to take the win.
“Surfing against Carissa you have to get two nines to win basically and I knew that,” Gilmore said.
“I had one semi-decent score but I never really felt comfortable. It’s really disappointing to get that score and feel good about it and to paddle back out and just see Carissa stroke into the dreamiest wave. I knew it was over, she doesn’t falter under pressure like that.”
Gilmore recorded 6.50 and 7.67 for a total of 14.17 while Moore’s decisive wave gave her a total of 16.13.
An opening 7.50 proved pivotal for Fitzgibbons against South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag.
Buitendag had the highest-scoring wave of the tie but her 8.67 wasn’t enough to overhaul the Australian, who had followed up with a 6.27.
Despite a knee injury, Wright was dominant against Hawaii’s Malia Manuel, warming up to a 7.50 before recording 8.17 and 8.30; her total of 16.47 easily beat Manuel’s 13.30.
“I do want to get rid of the brace but I’ve been advised that I can’t just yet,” Wright said.
“I feel good, I’m competing sharp again and putting heats together. I’ve been absolutely loving this week.”
Peterson qualified for the semi-finals with victory over countrywoman Courtney Conlogue in a close match-up.
The semi-finalists will enjoy a belated weekend in France’s southwest after the decision to delay further competition.
Weather forecasts show little swell for Monday or Tuesday with the next call coming at 8am on Wednesday, when the men’s event will also kick off, headlined by a second heat featuring Australians Owen Wright and Bede Durbridge up against Nat Young of the US.