Australian Stephanie Gilmore has matched the record of surf legend and her former mentor Layne Beachley by winning her seventh world crown on the opening day of the world tour finale, the Maui Pro in Hawaii.
The world title, in the best surf of the women's world tour at Honolua Bay, came unexpectedly early courtesy of the shock round two loss of Gilmore's only rival for the title, American Lakey Peterson.
"This is so, so special. It's unbelievable, "Gilmore said.
"It is an honor to sit beside you Layne. To equal you is such an honor. "
Gilmore dedicated her win to Quiksilver CEO Pierre Agnes.
The 54-year-old went missing on a fishing trip with his boat washed ashore at Hossegor, France, earlier this year.
Peterson was beaten by new mum and Hawaiian local wildcard Alana Blanchard in a second round result which delivered Gilmore world title number seven.
With three minutes to go Peterson took off on a wave requiring 7.83 to advance, but fell short.
Gilmore was on a bluff with friends watching the action when the drama went down and she claimed her first world crown since 2014.
She threw her arms in the air and cheered as she realized she had won.
"Oh my goodness," Gilmore said when crowned with a floral wreath.
Gilmore won the first of her seven crowns as a rookie in 2007 and then followed up with titles in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Beachley recently told The Daily Telegraph she expected Gilmore to "match it then smash" her seven world title haul and the 30-year-old has the same ambition.
Gilmore told the Daily Telegraph that it is also her plan while paying tribute to Beachley.
"Layne is an inspiration for me, for so many female surfers and for so many more reasons than just her surfing achievements," Gilmore said.
"It's her character, the way she carries herself, the way she represented female surfing to the world, that's the legacy I would like to match."
Gilmore has been the dominant surfer throughout the entire 2018 season, winning the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Brach, the Oi Rio Pro in Brazil and the J-Bay Open in South Africa.
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