Courtney Conlogue is back. In just her second event back from a foot injury sustained at Snapper, the American power surfer took out her first event win of the season. On her way to the Huntington pier podium Conlogue gave Lakey Peterson’s World Title run a crushing blow by knocking Lakey out of the event in their Quarterfinal matchup.

And while the men’s CT prepare for perfect Tahitian pits, the ladies were relegated to knee high and sometimes onshore Huntington beach. The conditions for the whole event were dismal. With no solid groundswell the world’s best women were essentially being scored on a snap in the shorey.

Steph managed to slide through her side of the draw looking as fluid as anyone possibly could given the conditions. The cringeworthy commentary assured that the event was in “very contestable conditions” however watching from a trendy Bali café, the crowd I was with barely glanced to the screens, scoffing that the event was even playing.

Steph said last year that one loss at Huntington cost her the World title, this year she ensured history didn’t repeat itself. Steph is reaching a new level, it's undeniable. Showing both emphatic joy and visible frustration during heats shows that she wants it. while the smile has been prolific over the last few seasons the fire and frustration has been lacking. A close call in her semi-final against Carissa Moore saw Steph slapping the water as she missed a wave that Carissa pounced on under priority, managing to improve her heat total. Luck was on Gilmore’s side however, and with mere seconds left on the clock she stroked into a wave and manufactured 4 turns to the beach and a finals appearance. A surprised Gilmore noted her luck, “When Carissa got the wave under priority I was like oh man, that was the biggest mistake right there, you just lost. Then I was basically coming in and that little shorey was like oh wow this is kind of a nice wave and I took of and it just allowed me to open up a bit. I didn’t think I got the score.”

With only France, the Wave Ranch and Hawaii left on the schedule Steph has put 5000 odd points between her and Lakey. The breathing room will be a sigh of relief for Gilmore as she is sure to be the favourite in both the Wave Ranch and Hawaii.  As Strider called it mid comp, this could be the title race done and dusted.