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 left early 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 composed 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 beyond the round of 16. The 35-year-old finished ranked 17th.
Women’s Championship Tour Opener
The Women’s Championship Tour Opener in Hawaii is home to the most extreme waves ever. Added to the mutant barrels, committed drops, and razor-sharp reef, American teen surfers are getting their first shot to take down the world’s best surfers on the pipeline.
The pipeline is a surf reef break located in Hawaii, off Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea on O'ahu's North Shore. A reef break is an area in the ocean where waves start to break once they reach the shallows of a reef.
The waves are considered some of the most dangerous on the planet. The Banzai Pipeline hosts some of the world's most prestigious surfing events and competitions but only the most skilled can ride these incredible waves.
Simmers and Spencer Strong Start
In the Women’s Championship Tour Opener, Simmers, a 17-year-old from California, scored a composed 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 beyond the round of 16. The 35-year-old finished ranked 17th.
Caitlyn Simmers grew up in Oceanside, California, surfing the pier and harbor with her parents Jesse and Ali and younger brother Timo, and says entering her first contests at age 9 felt predestined. Back in September of 2022, On September 26, Simmers won the U.S. Open of Surfing. At just 15 years old, this made her the second-youngest winner in the history of the event.
Alyssa Spencer was 9-years old the first time she came to watch women surfers compete in Oceanside. And the now-professional 19-year-old Encinitas surfer competes against some of the best women surfers in the world.