Gilmore makes WSL cut on day of upsets

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Australian great Stephanie Gilmore has survived the World Surf League's mid-season cut on a day of upsets at the Margaret River Pro.

The seven-times world champion was knocked out in dramatic fashion by giant-killing local Bronte Macaulay in Saturday's quarter-final, but Gilmore's last-eight finish was enough to keep her above the cut line.

Macaulay, competing in her fourth event in 2022 as a replacement, backed up a round-of-16 victory over defending world champion Carissa Moore to upset Gilmore in the penultimate heat of a big day at Main Beach.

The West Australian, with her family watching on from the shore, found a 4.73 wave in the dying seconds of her heat with Gilmore to snatch a narrow victory with a two-wave total of 8.90 to Gilmore's 8.80.

"We both just had a bit of a shocker and got so lucky on that last one," Macaulay said.

"Steph's been such an influence on me. Just such an incredible person, even when I first got on tour it felt like she kind of took me under her wing.

"Definitely how you want to be as a person. She's my favourite surfer too."

In the semis Macaulay will take on another fellow Australian in Isabella Nichols, who eliminated France's Johanne Defay in the final heat of the day.

While Gilmore is safe above the cut, it was the end of the Championship Tour road for Sally Fitzgibbons in 2022.

The 31-year-old came into the event ranked 12th but couldn't break into the top 10 as she was eliminated by Defay in the last 16.

It means Fitzgibbons will now have to drop to the WSL's challenger series to qualify for next year's main tour.

The women's field will be cut to the top 10 and a wildcard after this event in WA while the men's field will be culled to the top 22 and a wildcard.

Macaulay still has a chance to sneak above the cut line but only if she can win the event at her home break.

"I thought about it before that heat and I was like 'what am I doing'?," she said.

"I'm just going to go back to just trying to open up, surf and be grateful that I'm in this position.

"I shouldn't even be in the comp so I'm just going to enjoy it."

Moore and Gilmore weren't the only multiple world champions eliminated on Saturday, with Tyler Wright upset by 19-year-old Molly Picklum.

American Courtney Conlogue ended the youngster's run in the quarters however and will meet Gabriela Bryan of Hawaii for a place in the final.

Earlier, surfing legend Kelly Slater survived an elimination heat in what could be the 11-times world champion's final competition in Australia.

The 50-year-old finished second behind Brazil's Jadson Andre in the three-man elimination heat, with local wildcard Jack Thomas the man to drop out of the event.

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