Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmore made history Thursday with a record-breaking eighth world surfing title.

Her last title came in 2018, but she finally surpassed previous record-holder Layne Beachley at the World Surf League finals in California. Beachley congratulated Gilmore, calling her a “f–king legend” in a comment on an Instagram post by surfing magazine Tracks.

Gilmore made her debut in 2007, becoming the only surfer to win a world title in her debut season. Her 33 WSL event wins are the most of any woman surfer.

This year, though, didn’t get off to a strong start for the Australian. The 34-year-old missed the season opener with COVID-19 and earned just one event win throughout the year, and she entered the Rip Curl WSL Finals ranked fifth.

“I really feel like this year emotionally was one of the toughest years,” Gilmore told “Mentally I had to dig deep on a much gnarlier level than I’ve ever had to before.”

In her opening heat Thursday, Gilmore trailed against world No. 4 Brisa Hennessy but secured the ride she needed to win with less than a minute to go.

She won three heats in a row and then faced defending world champion Carissa Moore in a final surf-off.

Moore had won the previous two titles and entered the finals with the most regular season points after finishing second three times this season, third twice and winning one event.

“Carissa is really the world champ to me this year,” Gilmore said. “She’s had the best season ever. I’m so honored to surf against her in this final.”

Moore was quick to congratulate Gilmore on her title, calling her “the GREATEST of all time!” in an Instagram post.

“An honor to surf against you always,” she wrote. “Congratulations on your 8th title! Wow! 8X!!! Holy moly. Five X 35 min heats in one day with all the pressure and win or die situations…it’s all yours undoubtedly.”

Gilmore appreciated the support she received from Moore and from others after her record-breaking win.

“I had so many of the women on the tour come up to me after this event,” Gilmore said, “and they just all said to me how inspired they were by the fact that I didn’t have the best year, but I was still able to pull through with an incredible, incredible performance in the last event to make it happen and be a world champion. And that made all of them realize that, hey, we can do this.”

She called that moment “really rewarding.”

“I just felt so happy that I was able to give them that confidence because they’re all such incredible athletes and we’re all progressing the sport together,” she said. “And if I can help push that along, not only in my own actions, but to inspire my peers to do the same thing, then job done.”

(Mark Rightmire/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

A new sports network called the Women’s Sports Network is hitting the streaming airwaves in an effort to further raise the profile of women’s sports. The network will debut in 2022 on free, ad-supported streaming platforms in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

Presented by FAST Studios, a multi-million dollar plan to build the network was unveiled Tuesday by CEO Stuart McLean. Already the WSN has confirmed participation from several organizations, including the LPGA, U.S. Ski and Snowboard and the World Surf League. Additionally, GoodSport and Empower Onyx have joined as partners.

Included on the network’s advisory board is Carol Stiff, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and 30-year ESPN veteran. Sophie Goldschmidt, CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard and former WSL CEO, will also be on the board.

In addition to airing competitions, the network will produce daily and weekly women’s sports news, talk and highlights shows from Los Angeles.

“Women’s sports programming has been too hard to find on TV for too long. Brands are telling us that they want to support female athletes, and they appreciate how brand-safe and relatable they are,” said Stiff. “When we launch, 50 years after Title IX started the ball rolling towards parity for women’s sports in America, the Women’s Sports Network will fill a void that has been plaguing brands and audiences alike.”

In addition to FAST Studios, McLean currently sits on the Fluid Fan Leadership Board at Sports Innovation Lab, which recognizes the need for growing women’s sports coverage.

“For too long, the women’s sports industry has been seen through the lens of men’s sports, and that has led to a massive underestimation of the commercial opportunity,” said McLean “Our significant investment in the Women’s Sports Network, the outstanding team of partners we’re continuing to grow, and the cultural forces at play all combine to make this the most exciting new venture I’ve ever had the privilege to launch.”

Carissa Moore is a world champion once again.

The Hawaiian surfer won the inaugural Rip Curl WSL Pro in San Clemente, Calif. on Tuesday to capture her fifth world title.

It was the first time ever that a one-day surf-off crowned the world champion after the WSL announced a new championship layout earlier this year. Previously, the rankings at the end of the championship tour determined the winner.

Moore defeated Brazil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb in a best-of-three final to close out the 2021 World Surf League Championship Tour. Weston-Webb, who ranked second on the CT tour, bested Moore in the first round 15.20-14.06. But Moore rebounded in the next two rounds to take the title with a final score of 16.60-14.20.

The victory caps a landmark year for Moore, who won the first-ever surfing gold medal this summer at the Tokyo Olympics. It also makes her the first Hawaiian woman to win back-to-back world titles since 1981.

Moore now has the second-most titles in women’s surfing history behind Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore and Layne Beachley, who each have seven career world championships.

Tyler Wright is taking to Just Women’s Sports’ Instagram at the WSL finals to show us what’s going down at Lower Trestles and discuss the groundbreaking finals.

“For the first time ever, both men and women’s world champions will be crowned on the same day in the same conditions,” she said during the takeover. “That has never happened and it’s, I think, a huge moment and it’s a huge agenda-setting moment for our sport.

“You can really see the shift in backing women.”

Surfing legends Jessi Miley-Deyer, Lisa Andersen and Debbie Beacham also stopped by to discuss how far surfing has come in terms of equality.

“It’s almost unbelievable for me, for someone like me,” Beacham said. “Because we were there at the very beginning, the very pioneering of it. To have worked so hard just to get a seat at the table. And now we’re not only at the table, we’re at the banquet.”

The Rip Curl WSL Finals were called off Thursday due to poor conditions, with next call coming on Friday at 10:30 a.m. ET.

The first-ever Rip Curl WSL Finals are coming to California.

Starting today, surfing’s top competitors will descend upon Lower Trestles, San Clemente to crown a WSL champion. For the first time in WSL history, the men’s and women’s winners will be named on the same day in an unprecedented winner-takes-all event.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the Finals:

The format

The 2021 Championships will take place in California in a one-day event between Sept. 9 and Sept. 17, dependent on conditions.

Five surfers will participate in the title contest based on the points they accrue on the Championship Tour. The top six results (out of eight events) decide the final WSL leaderboard rankings.

The competition has a bracket structure, with World No. 1 Carissa Moore awarded an automatic bid to the Title Match. The four other surfers will go head-to-head, moving up through the WSL bracket. Match 1 will feature fourth-ranked Stephanie Gilmore and fifth-ranked Johanne Defay, with the winner moving on to face World No. 3 Sally Fitzgibbons. The champion of Match 2 will then take on No. 2 Tatiana Weston-Webb in Match 3. All head-to-heads will feature a traditional heat format.

Courtesy of WSL

The surfers

Carissa Moore: As the World No. 1, Moore comes into the WSL Finals having already secured her place in the Title Match. The Hawaii native has dominated surfing over the last decade, surging to the top of the sport in 2011 when she became the youngest person to win the surfing title at 18 years old. Since then, she has taken home a total of four World Championships, most recently clinching the first-ever Olympic surfing gold medal at the Tokyo Games. Moore boasts an impressive 14.48 average heat score and 23 heat wins, making her the favorite in Trestles.

Tatiana Weston-Webb: Weston-Webb has had a consistent 2021 season, winning the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona back in May. Named WSL Rookie of the Year in 2015, Weston-Webb has climbed the WSL rankings since her debut on the Championship Tour. Weston-Webb, who previously topped out at No. 6 in 2019, is now No. 2 heading into the Finals. The 25-year-old could make history in California, competing to become the first Brazilian woman to win a World Title.

Sally Fitzgibbons: Fitzgibbons has been a top competitor in surfing since exploding onto the scene in 2009 as the WSL Rookie of the Year. The Australian reached a career-high ranking of World No. 1 in 2019 after winning in Rio. After over a decade in the sport, Fitzgibbons comes to the WSL Finals looking for her first-ever World Championship.

Stephanie Gilmore: Gilmore is a surfing legend, considered to be one of the greatest competitors in the sport’s history. The 33-year-old burst onto the scene in 2007, becoming the first surfer, male or female, to win Rookie of the Year and a World Championship in the same season. Gilmore has won seven World Titles, most recently lifting the WSL trophy in 2018. In 2010, the Australian was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame, solidifying her place in the sport’s history. Gilmore will look to shatter a new record in California, becoming the first woman to win eight World Championships.

Johanne Defay: Defay has consistently finished in the Top 10 since her WSL tour debut, reaching No. 5 in 2016 and 2018. The French surfer moved all the way up to No. 2 in the rankings during the 2021 season after winning the Surf Ranch Pro title. The 27-year-old now has a chance to make history at the WSL Finals as the first European woman to take the World Title.

How to watch

The Rip Curl WSL Finals will stream on and YouTube between Sept. 9 and Sep. 17, with the actual day of competition determined by conditions.

The 2021 Rip Curl WSL Finals are just around the corner.

For the first time ever, surfing’s top athletes will gather for a one-day event to crown two indisputable champions of the sport, with both the women’s and men’s finals happening on the same day. The top five leaders from each tour will descend upon Lower Trestles, San Clemente, Calif., for the winner-take-all tournaments. A nine-day waiting period begins Sept. 9, with conditions determining when the single-day event is ultimately called.

“I think the WSL Finals and having that format for the first time ever is going to be really exciting,” Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL’s Head of Competition, tells Just Women’s Sports.

Going into the Finals, all eyes will be on World No. 1 Carissa Moore, the heavy favorite to win a title in California after capturing the first-ever Olympic gold medal in surfing. For Miley-Dyer, the sport’s Olympic debut was a pivotal moment, “a statement of validation for not only the athletes but also us as a sport to be in there for the first time.”

“To have so many new eyes take notice of our athletes in particular is cool,” she adds.

Miley-Dyer and the rest of the WSL are counting on more than a few of those new eyes to tune into the Rip Curl Finals, where Moore will be joined by Tatiana Weston-Webb, Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore and Johanne Defay in the Finals bracket.

On the men’s side, Gabriel Medina heads into the competition ranked No. 1, followed by Italo Ferreira, Filipe Toledo, Conner Coffin and Morgan Cibilic.

The choice to hold the women’s and men’s Finals on the same day marks an intentional and transformative shift by the WSL.

“It’s a huge moment on the women’s tour because it’s the first time ever we’re going to be crowning a women’s world champ on the same day as the men’s,” Miley-Dyer says. “The thing that I love about that is that we will have both our best male and best female stand there together as the heads of the sport.”

The men’s and women’s joint Finals preview a new, long-term structure for the WSL, who recently announced a fully integrated schedule for the upcoming season. Starting in 2022, the Championship Tour will feature ten regular-season events highlighting a combined women’s and men’s schedule, beginning with Pipeline, Hawai’i on January 29.


“It’s really important to me that we have those opportunities for men and women to be able to compete at the same amount of events, but also for us to be having the tour the same, it also means that women are surfing really good waves,” Miley-Dyer says.

The new WSL structure will also feature a third competition tier to go along with the Championship Tour and Challenger Series, dedicated to regional development. The WSL hopes that the regionalized series will increase access to the sport while providing fresh faces an avenue to qualify at “the very highest level.”

As a surfer on the Championship Tour for six years, Miley-Dyer remembers her junior career as successful and supportive, with great sponsors.

“I’m very passionate about other surfers getting to have those opportunities as well,” she says, speaking to the WSL’s commitment to development and investment.

The WSL previously made history in 2018 when it became one of the only sports leagues to announce the implementation of equal prize money for men’s and women’s competitions. Now, the revamped tour structure picks up where the equal pay push left off.

“We believe really strongly in equality, and one of the things when we announced equal prize money is that it’s a really strong statement about the value of the women’s tour to have the women’s surfers be paid equally,” Miley-Dyer says. “Coming off of that, when we looked at the Challenger Series, we were like … there is no reason why we can’t have the same amount of events for men and women and in the same spots.

“It’s the right thing to do and we are committed to doing it.”

Tune in: Rip Curl WSL Finals begin as soon as Sept. 10. Check out or the WSL App for updates.

In the wake of surfing’s Olympic debut, the World Surf League announced its 2022 calendar on Wednesday.

For the first time, the Championship Tour and Challenger Series will feature a combined men’s and women’s schedule. The league will also introduce a mid-season cut.

The 2022 competition will have a three-tier competition framework, aimed at developing young talent more locally via the seven Regional Qualifying Series. The surfers who emerge from the Qualifying Series will fight for a spot on the brand-new global Challenger Series. From there, they will have the opportunity to qualify for the Championship Tour and compete for the World Title.

G-Land, Indonesia will return to the tour for the first time in 24 years, marking the first time ever that women will compete at that location.

Last month, Team USA’s Carissa Moore won the first Olympic gold medal in women’s surfing.

The full 2022 WSL Championship Tour schedule:

  • Pipeline, Hawai’i: January 29 – February 10
  • Sunset, Hawai’i: February 11-23
  • Peniche, Portugal: March 3-13
  • Bells Beach, Australia: April 10-20
  • Margaret River, Western Australia: April 24 – May 4

Mid-Season Cut – 18-woman field reduced to 12-woman field

  • G-Land, Indonesia: May 28 – June 6
  • Trestles, USA: June 15 – 22
  • Saquarema, Brazil: June 27 – July 4
  • Jeffreys Bay, South Africa: July 9 – 18
  • Teahupo’o, Tahiti: August 11 – 21

WSL Final 5 determined to battle for women’s World Title

  • Rip Curl WSL Finals, location TBA: September 7-18

Olympic surfing has its first-ever Olympic champion in Team USA’s Carissa Moore.

With the threat of Tropical Storm Nepartak pushing the quarterfinals, semifinals and medal matches all into one day, it was a marathon of an event for some of the world’s best.

But Moore wasn’t phased.

Eventually, Moore and Bianca Buitendag of South Africa found themselves standing alone in a battle for gold.

In the final heats on Tuesday, competitors had 35 minutes to score as many waves as they could catch. From there, five judges awarded scores from zero to 10, the highest and lowest of which were thrown out while the remaining three were averaged. From there, each surfer’s top two scores were combined for their final score.

In the gold medal heat, the four-time WSL Champion completed two big runs for a final score of 14.93. It was more than enough to beat Buitendag, who finished with a score of 8.46.

Caroline Marks, the 19-year-old American surfer, couldn’t find much to ride and was upset in the quarterfinal, advancing to the bronze-medal heat. She was then beat out by Japanese surfer Amuro Tsuzuki, 6.80 to 4.26, for bronze.

Caroline Marks is both making waves and catching them in the first-ever Olympic surfing competition.

No stranger to making history, the 19-year-old advanced to the quarterfinals on Monday. She set the highest score of the third round with a 15.33 to win her heat against Mahina Maeda. Her score of 8.00 on her second wave was also the highest on an individual wave in the competition thus far.

Marks has been dominating on the international surf scene since 2018, when she became the youngest female surfer ever to qualify for the World Surf League Championship Tour. In 2019, she finished second on the WSL Championship tour to Carissa Moore, a four-time tour champion who also advanced to the quarterfinals on Monday.

The semifinals of surfing will take place July 27 at 9:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

April 9th, 2021 — Carissa Moore remembers smiling as she stood up on her board. She remembers feeling the cool water on her skin.

It was the WSL world tour quarterfinals at Newcastle, Australia’s iconic Merewether Beach, one of the last big events in the lead-up for this summer’s Tokyo Games. Conditions were perfect as Moore paddled out.

“She is already a Hall of a Famer,” said the live broadcast’s commentator. “She has won almost everything there is to win but is still so young.”

Despite the laudatory introduction, Moore still managed to stun everyone when she launched off the lip of a six footer, spun her board 270 degrees, before grabbing the rail to complete a massive aerial reverse to propel her into the semifinals.

The announcing team went berserk: “What? What?!”

They couldn’t form sentences, while Moore herself, still on her board, held her head in her hands in disbelief at what she had just done.

Moore went on to win first place in Newcastle and is currently ranked No. 1 in the World Surf League’s Championship Tour. The air reverse might have shocked the four-time surfing world champion, but for those who have been watching her surf on the tour for the past 10 years, the performance was just the next step in her evolution.

Moore lands an a monster air reverse in competition. (WSL/Cait Miers)

Moore first fell in love with the sport as a 5-year-old girl, surfing in tandem with her dad off the beaches of Waikiki in Honolulu.

“I loved the feeling of the escape that it gave,” Moore told Just Women’s Sports over the phone on a travel day before the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro competition in June.

”I think I was between 10-12 years-old when I remember having a serious conversation with my dad about how far I wanted to take it.”

Moore didn’t play any other sports growing up. She may have dabbled in swimming and dance, but surfing was always “it.” Despite putting all of her eggs in one basket, Moore never suffered any doubts about her path.

“I think it was my dad’s belief in me and his belief in my potential that really made me believe in myself and the journey.”

Moore’s journey put her in the limelight early; she won 11 national titles during her amateur career and made a splash in the Championship Tour in 2010 when she finished third overall. She was awarded Rookie of the Year at 17 years old, and in 2011, she became the youngest  winner of the ASP Women’s World Tour. Only 18 at the time, she went on to win three more surfing world titles and is now one of two American women competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“The moment I found out was the very last event in the Maui Pro on the 2019 Championship Tour. It was a huge moment and I was overwhelmed with emotions because I hadn’t let myself think about it, because I couldn’t let my foot off the gas pedal with how well the other girls were surfing,” Moore said. “I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.”

While a four-time World Champion might seem a shoo-in for the Olympics, Moore was neck-and-neck with fellow Americans Caroline Marks and Lakey Peterson. The Americans were the top three surfers in the world, yet only two could go on to compete for Team USA.

Moore ended up qualifying for the Games when Peterson fell in the round of 16 to Australia’s Tyler Wright at the 2019 Maui Pro, eliminating her from the Olympic qualification.

Moore is a four-time WSL tour World Champion. (WSL/Cait Miers)

Moore can’t wait to represent both her country and Hawaii at the Olympics, but she isn’t getting ahead of herself. Instead she’s focusing on being present, whether that’s in the water surfing, scrapbooking at home, or just soaking up any time she can get at home in Honolulu.

“I’m a pretty simple island girl,” Moore says, “ I just love being home — with my husband, my dog. My sister moved home, so I pretty much just jump houses and say hi to everyone every day.”

Moore’s voice is soft, yet confident. She speaks quickly and energetically when she mentions her family and Hawaii. Relaxed as she may seem, the simple island girl still surfs and trains most days and is in full preparation mode for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“My main goal is to be as present as possible and give everything I can to the moment in front of me,” she said. “I think that’s when I’m at my best.”

Moore is one of two surfers who will represent Team USA in Tokyo. (WSL/Kenny Morris)

With surfing set to make its Olympic debut, Tokyo could prove to be a breakout moment for Moore. Already a legend in the surfing world, the Olympics are a chance to shine on a global stage.

Faced with such an opportunity, Moore falls back on old advice from her dad: “‘Go hard and give it everything that you have every time you go out. When you do anything, do it 100 percent.’”

Her iconic air reverse was just that: a moment of trust in both the water and herself. A reward for giving it her all. Both an athletic achievement and a personal statement.

“I hope my surfing shows an expression of how I feel,” Moore said. “I wear my heart on my sleeve and I surf from my heart, so I hope you can feel that.”

In Tokyo, Moore will have a chance to express how she feels to her largest audience yet. There’s a chance she’ll surprise both us and herself yet again.