Alana Blanchard Wins Vans Women's Hawaiian Pro
HALEIWA, Oahu/Hawaii - Hawaii’s Alana Blanchard (Kauai) hit a career high today, defeating reigning world champion Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) to post a win in the Vans Hawaiian Pro, the first stop of the $1,000,000 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Blanchard won $2,500 today but now leads the Vans Triple Crown series ratings that will pay $25,000 to the women’s winner at the end of the three events.
Blanchard, 19, is a rookie on the ASP Women’s World Tour this year and this is her first full crack at the Vans Triple Crown series of events.
The women surfed through all four rounds of the event today in head-high surf.
It was a hard-fought final between Gilmore and Blanchard, with little separating the two who were equally as impressive on their backhand attack on the lefts. In the end, just 1.12 points was the difference. Blanchard with a two-wave total of 14.16, and Gilmore ($1,750) with 13.04. Third place in the 30-minute, four-woman final went to Sofia Mulanovich (Peru, $1,500), and fourth was Australian Rebecca Woods ($1,250).
The finals started off with a bang with all four ladies taking advantage of a set of waves that rolled through right at the horn. Gilmore, 21, got the best of the exchange. She held the lead for the majority of the heat until Alana answered back with four minutes remaining. On one of the larger waves of the heat, Alana put everything into her backhand attack, sticking a floater over an inside closeout section to lock in a 7.83, the highest score of the heat.
Gilmore wasn’t going to give up without a fight though and answered back with only seconds on the clock, cranking five turns on a smaller right. The 6.37 was not enough to pull back into first, leaving Blanchard surfing a victory lap to the beach.
"It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my career," said Blanchard on her win.
"I haven’t won a lot and it’s special to win in Hawai’i because I live here and it’s part of the Triple Crown.
"I was just trying to have fun and stayed relaxed the whole time. I didn’t care if I won or lost."
Gilmore plans to take advantage of her second place finish to boost her momentum going into the next event, the Gidget Pro at Sunset Beach that is critical to her world title campaign.
"I was really relaxed in this event. Although it’s Triple Crown, it’s just a specialty event for us. It was a good warm up and I feel good to make the final.
"The world title race is really tight at the moment and this is a good confidence booster heading into Sunset, which is a great event for the (WCT) girls. Its good to push ourselves."