Stephanie Gilmore finds groove in Lemoore
GOLD Coaster and six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore sits fourth on the Surf Ranch Pro rankings after completing her first run at the World Surf League's eighth event in California.
Three-time WSL champion Carissa Moore (Hawaii) dominated her opening run at Lemoore to capture the lead with an excellent 8.90 and a 17.60 heat total.
Gilmore (16.26) also trails US duo Lakey Paterson (16.50) and Caroline Marks (16.43).
Brazil's 2014 WSL winner Gabriel Medina took control of the men's leaderboard with a near-perfect 9.30 and an 8.40.
Japan's Kanoa Igarashi (15.73) and Australian Owen Wright (15.56) are giving chase.
"I felt like I had good speed going into every turn after seeing some guys backing off some so I just went for it on every turn," Wright said.
"I pretty much just wanted to go all out, but the wave dictates what you can and can't do.
"It's a fast wave and guys can get stuck behind easily, and it's really similar as to our practice sessions for what was happening with everyone falling or getting stuck.
"I feel like I had a pretty good mindset of handling the pressure and, for me, I'm just stoked to have the opportunity. Sometimes when you're in the ocean you don't get it, so to be given that I'm just taking all the positives out of it."
The qualifying rounds give each surfer six waves - three lefts and three rights - over three runs, with the best-scoring right and left waves added to create each athlete's total score.
The top four women and the top eight men at the conclusion of the qualifying round will advance on to the final.
Tomorrow, all surfers will have two more opportunities - one right and one left wave - to improve their scores and make the final.
Men's Top Eight
1. Gabriel Medina 17.70
2. Kanoa Igarashi 15.73
3. Owen Wright 15.56
4. Filipe Toledo 15.47
5. Kolohe Andino 15.03
6. Julian Wilson 15.00
7. Jordy Smith 14.87
8. Italo Ferreira 14.70
Women's Top Four
1. Carissa Moore 17.60
2. Lakey Peterson 16.50
3. Caroline Marks 16.43
4. Stephanie Gilmore 16.26