Surfing: Gilmore wins in Taranaki

Stephanie Gilmore continued her charge towards a fifth women's world surfing title with victory in the New Zealand event at Taranaki today.

The Australian had better wave choice to win the final by just 0.7 of a point from Hawaiian Carissa Moore 15.76 points to 15.06.

Gilmore has two wins and a second placing in the opening half of the seven-event season and leads the standings well clear of fellow Aussie Sally Fitzgibbons who won the previous event in Victoria before bowing out in the quarter-finals at Taranaki.

"This is by far the best start to a season I've had in my career," said Gilmore, who had a flat 2011 after being assaulted outside her home.

"To have three finals straight off the bat ... it's really cool."

Moore, the reigning world champion, was in her third straight NZ final after winning the inaugural event in 2010 and being runner-up last year.

"I just let a couple of waves go under my priority," said Moore, who sits third in the ratings.

"I didn't think they'd offer that much, but Steph (Gilmore) did a really good job."

Local favourite Paige Hareb finished equal third after losing to Gilmore in a tight semi-final 16.44 to 14.07.

Hareb led for the majority of the heat until Gilmore caught one of the best waves of the day, pulled in to a clean barrel and punctuated the ride with two massive turns.

"You get pretty pumped having the support of the hometown crowd," Hareb said after equalling her best result on the world tour and climbing to seventh in the ratings.

"That one bomb wave came through and Steph (Gilmore) happened to have priority at the time. I was just left sitting out the back watching her rip it apart all the way to the beach."

The other semi-final was tighter still as Moore downed American Lakey Peterson 12.93 to 11.92.

-AAP

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