Eight-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) announced she will be taking a break from full-time competition for the 2024 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) season.

Free surfing

“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. “There are 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.”

“While we will miss Steph’s presence on the CT this season, we wholeheartedly support her decision to take this time for herself,” said Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL Chief of Sport. “Steph’s influence on surfing and sport has been profound. Inspiring countless people around the world. We eagerly await her return in 2025, where she will be welcomed back with the season wildcard, ready to continue her incredible legacy.”

Gilmore will receive the 2025 Season Wildcard, which will allow her to compete in the 2025 CT season.

Gilmore, one of the greatest surfers of all time, started competing on the Championship Tour in 2007. Throughout her tenure, she has accumulated a record 33 Championship Tour event wins. Gilmore most recently won her record-breaking eighth World Title in 2022 and earned seven top-five event finishes last season. Gilmore has made her return clear and will be one to watch in 2025 after taking time to refresh and refocus.

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). She 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.

Silva previously holding the WSL Replacement position and now gaining full-time entry on the CT. Sophie McCulloch (AUS) has been allocated the WSL Replacement spot by the WSL Tours and Competition team. Following Carissa Moore’s withdrawal from the 2024 CT season after the Pipe Pro, McCulloch will compete in Moore’s place as the first replacement.

See also: Big Waves