In a chaotic day of Olympic surfing that saw high winds from an offshore typhoon and the biggest surf of the contest window, the ISA soldiered through a delay that nearly postponed the event to finish a wild Round 3 where big names were sent packing. The biggest of those names were Australians – Steph Gilmore and Julian Wilson both lost elimination heats.
Gilmore went down to South African Bianca Buitendag, who found her footing against the seven-time world champ when Gilmore let Buitendag flip the heat by taking an important wave under priority. It was a disappointing loss for Gilmore, who surfed so fluidly on Day 1, racking up the highest combined heat score of the contest. “I looked at that wave and I was like, ‘I don’t know, it doesn’t look that good’ so I let her have it and she turned it into a seven,” an emotional Gilmore said after. “That was the most frustrating thing for me. I should have taken that wave and just held control of the situation. That was a tough one.”