First Carissa, Now Steph
Four days after Carissa Moore announced a quasi-retirement, Steph Gilmore has followed suit. This morning the eight-time world champion announced she was stepping away from competition for a year.
“I am planning to take this time as a refresh for myself physically, mentally, and enjoy following swells and free surfing in new places,” said Gilmore, who's 35-years old. “I have some projects and trips I want to do, which haven’t been possible while traveling during the season. I am still passionate and dedicated to competing, and I have goals and dreams that I am still chasing - I’m excited for this year to activate those and I look forward to returning in 2025.”
Though Caroline Marks won last year's women's title, Steph and Carissa have collected twelve of the last fifteen world titles and with both absent in 2024 it opens the door for a new guard.
In 17 years on the Championship Tour, Steph has accumulated a record 33 event wins. She most recently won a record-breaking eighth World Title in 2022 and earned seven top-five event finishes last season.
Steph has made clear this is a one year break and she'll return in 2025 with a season wildcard - something already assured by the WSL.
Steph's withdrawal changes the 2024 CT lineup with Luana Silva stepping in to fill her spot. The explanation for that is somewhat convoluted but explained here by the WSL:
"Under the WSL Rule Book, Gilmore’s spot continues down the 2023 CT rankings, and it is not allocated to the first replacement as this is a pre-season withdrawal. The next qualifier on the CT is Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), who is tied with Brisa Hennessy (CRC) and wins the tiebreak due to heat wins (4 to 3). Fitzgibbons as Gilmore’s replacement via the CT opens up a spot via the Challenger Series. Luana Silva (BRA), as the next ranked surfer on the Challenger Series, then qualifies for the CT in Fitzgibbons’ absence on the Challenger Series’ rankings. Silva will start her 2024 season at Pipeline, marking her return to the CT."