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Barreling into history

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The queen of the Triple Crown of Surfing now has a triple crown.

Stephanie Gilmore of Australia won the Vans Duel for the Jewel contest yesterday at Backdoor Pipeline and clinched her third consecutive Vans Triple Crown of Surfing women’s championship in the process.

The women’s finale was completed in wave-face heights of 6 to 12 feet, along with three rounds of the men’s Billabong Pipe Masters In Memory of Andy Irons.

Gilmore is the first woman to win the Triple Crown championship three years in a row. She is also the first woman to win a Triple Crown event at Pipeline, as this was the first time that the Triple Crown staged a women’s event at the famous break.

"I would trade it all just to have another session out there with no one out because that was so much fun," said Gilmore, 22.

Gilmore left no doubt, as she was the only woman to successfully ride through one of the famous Pipeline barrels during yesterday’s final. Midway through the 30-minute final, she found a late-breaking barrel and received a score of 8.83 (out of 10) after she made it out.

"It was kind of a steep takeoff, and I thought my board might be too big," she said. "But it fit in there perfectly. I held on, came out, and it was such a good feeling … that wave was really pretty from the inside."

Gilmore received $10,000 for the victory. She is also the four-time defending world champion. In effect, she has maintained a simultaneous grip on the most prestigious titles in the sport — world champion and Triple Crown champion — since 2008.

If anything, a challenger to Gilmore’s superiority may have emerged during the 2010 women’s Triple Crown. Sixteen-year-old Tyler Wright of Australia placed second during yesterday’s contest, and second overall in the Triple Crown standings.

"It’s going to be a good rivalry in the future," Gilmore said.

Coco Ho of Sunset Beach placed third and described the final at Pipeline as "one of the most amazing experiences of my career" even though she didn’t make it out of any barrels.

"Even though I didn’t make it out, it was still the best feeling," said Ho, 19. "I don’t surf out here too often, especially when the waves are good. But after this, I’m definitely going to be dragging my dad out here more often."

Her dad is legendary North Shore surfer and former Pipe Masters winner Michael Ho.

Alana Blanchard of Kauai placed fourth.


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