Stephanie Gilmore went from putting herself down as a tea bag two days ago to nearly winning her fourth Bells Beach title.
While the Australian surfing star narrowly lost her Easter Monday final to American Courtney Conlogue, Gilmore now leads the world rankings after three events.
Conlogue was outstanding in her three finals on Monday as she successfully defended her Rip Curl Pro title, beating Carissa Moore, Australian Tyler Wright and Gilmore.
Between them, Moore (three), Wright (one) and Gilmore (six) have won 10 world titles.
Gilmore was feeling anything but a former world champion on Saturday after needing a last-gasp score to beat Brazilian Silvana Lima in the fourth round.
The three-time Bells champion admonished herself, promising fans that she was not just sitting around like a tea bag until later in her heats.
That prompted Gilmore’s mum to send her a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.
“She said ‘women are like tea bags – they don’t know how strong they are until they’re dropped into hot water’ – I thought, that’s pretty cool,” Gilmore said.
“It must have worked because something changed.”
Gilmore was a transformed surfer on Monday, beating Johanne Defay of France in their quarter-final and then American Lakey Peterson in the semis before a pulsating final against Conlogue.
But the Australian made one mistake late in the final and Conlogue took full toll, taking the lead for the first time and holding on for a 17.00 to 16.33 win.
“That’s all it takes, you can’t make mistakes against these girls any more,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore had come to Bells Beach sharing the world ranking lead with compatriot Sally Fitzgibbons, who bowed out in the quarter-finals.
With a win, a third and now a second in the Australian leg of the world tour, Gilmore’s hunt for a record-equalling seventh world crown is taking shape.
“It’s definitely on – that’s’ what I’m here for,” Gilmore said.
“You have to win events to win the world title, so that’s the plan.”
Conlogue was stunned when told how many world titles her three Monday opponents had won between them.
“Wow – that’s a lot of world titles,” she said after ringing the famed bell trophy again.
“It was definitely a big day.
“I kept just re-gathering myself and believing it was still possible.
“There are so many times when you might want to throw in the towel, but then you keep pushing and then you end up seeing this amazing miracle happen.”
In a day full of drama, Conlogue came from behind to win each of her finals.
She had a “paddle battle” midway through her quarter-final against Moore as they battled for priority.
And late in Conlogue’s semi, Wright’s board broke to end the Australian’s hopes of her first Bells title.
Conlogue improved to fourth in the world rankings behind Fitzgibbons and Wright with her Bells win.