Lower Trestles, San Clemente, Calif, 8 September:
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) won the 2022 World Surf League (WSL) Titles at the second-annual Rip Curl WSL Finals in dreamy four-to-six foot conditions at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, Calif.
A historic day for Gilmore marked her eighth World Title, making her the winningest women’s surfer in the sport; while Toledo finally made his vision of being a World Champion a reality with his victory today.
The 2022 Rip Curl WSL Finals, the final event of the 2022 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), has seen an action-packed day so far. Now, two surfing legends in seven-time WSL Champion, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), and five-time WSL Champion, Carissa Moore (HAW), will go head-to-head in a best-of-three World Title Showdown. The first Title Match will start at 12:05 p.m. PT.
Domination and determination were the themes of the day as World No. 5 Gilmore made her way up from the bottom of the bracket to the top, taking out World No. 4 Brisa Hennessy (CRI), No. 3 Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), and No. 2 Johanne Defay (FRA) en route to the Title Match where she defeated World No. 1 Carissa Moore (HAW).
The women’s title race finished with a Title Match for the books, featuring two surfing legends, seven-time WSL Champion Gilmore and five-time WSL Champion Moore going head-to-head in a best-of-three World Title Showdown. Gilmore continued her momentum, winning the first of the three matches and leaving Moore in a do or die situation. In the Title Match 2, Gilmore proved to be unstoppable, picking the best waves and putting her trademark style on full display. In an emotional finish, Gilmore not only became the 2022 World Champion, but the greatest female surfer of all time with a record breaking eight World Titles.
“There really are not many words that can describe this feeling right now and that’s why I now really love this format. It puts the pressure on you, it puts you under the pump, can you do it, it’s truly incredible.”
Gilmore, aged 34 from New South Wales, Australia, won her first World Title in her rookie season (2007) and became the first surfer (male or female) to accomplish such a feat. She went on to claim three more consecutive titles (2008, 2009, and 2010) followed by two more World Titles in 2012 and 2014. Gilmore has racked up an impressive eight Championship Tour victories during her career, second only to Kelly Slater (USA). In 2018, after a four year-gap, she clinched her record-tying seventh World Title (to equal Australian Layne Beachley), and went on to finish the 2019 CT season as World No. 4, qualifying for surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo. She was short of winning a medal at the Games and watched on as her rival Moore won both Gold and the World Title.
However, at the end of 2021 Gilmore again committed herself to the CT, vowing to win the 8th World Title that would, yet again, make history. Today, she has done just that, further cementing herself as one of surfing’s legends.
Pictured: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) demonstrating her trademark style. Credit: © WSL / Nolan
Gilmore’s style is listed by many as one of the best in the business. Her aggressive, elegant approach is grounded in genius precision and technical expertise that has set a new performance benchmark for surfing. She’s been a role model and inspiration to a generation of women who have become her greatest competitors, and she couldn’t be happier.
“I’m really proud that I was able to make it past Brisa (Hennessy), Tatiana (Weston-Webb), Johanne (Defay), all of the most incredible female surfers in the world,” said Gilmore. “And then to be able to make it all the way to the Final against Carissa, who in my mind, she’s the real world champ this year. I was out there thinking, if this happens, this is freaking cool because I’m out here against Carissa – the greatest of all time in my opinion.
Filipe Toledo Realizes Dream of Maiden World Title
The day also belonged to 27-year-old, Ubatuba, Brazil competitor Toledo who has spent the previous nine years among the world’s best. Qualifying for the CT in 2013, Toledo’s career has accounted for some of the sport’s wildest highlights from his Perfect 10s across the globe to 13-career CT event victories, and now adding the prestigious World Title.
The men’s Title Match finished out the day with an in-form Italo Ferreira (BRA), charging from the first heat of the day, and Toledo taking the stage. Toledo was the first competitor of the day able to take down Ferreira in the first match of three, inching his way closer to the World Title. The final match of the day was a close one with each competitor left it all on the table in the final and closest match of the day. In the end, Toledo emerged victorious and finally claimed his maiden WSL World Title.
“It doesn’t get much better than this,” said Toledo. “This is for Brazil, for my family, and for you all here. First of all I want to thank Jesus. What he did for all my life and the last week, and the entire year. I kept calm and collected with help from the guy up there. Last night we had a moment with Pastor John, Terry, my wife and whole family and two words that he gave to us were peace and power. That’s what I had all day.”Pictured: Filipe Toledo claims his first World Title at the Rip Curl WSL Finals. Credit: © WSL / Diz
The Brazilian’s commitment to his family and his craft is more apparent than ever. Traveling with them to each event and dominating the 2022 CT season with five Final appearances, including two wins, and flourishing in his Title Match against compatriot Ferreira.
“Whoever is chasing your dreams, it does pay off,” added Toledo. “It’s hard, you get tired, there’s a lot of ups and downs, and bad thoughts, but we did it. We did it.”
Photos, below Credit: © WSL / Nolan /Diz/ Ryder