By Karen Price | July 19, 2019, 10:20 a.m. (ET)

Carissa Moore celebrating her first win of the season at the Corona Open J-Bay on July 19, 2019 in Eastern Cape, South Africa.

 

 

Carissa Moore wondered when it was going to happen.

 

Although she’d placed no lower than fifth in a competition on the World Surf League Women’s Championship Tour this season, the three-time world champion came into the Corona Open J-Bay in South Africa still looking for her first win of the season.

 

She got it on Friday in stormy conditions with 6- to 8-foot waves, topping fellow American Lakey Peterson for that elusive first victory of the year.

 

The native of Hawaii, who is vying to represent Team USA when surfing makes its Olympic debut in 2020, had high scores of 8.5 and 6.97 in the final round for a 15.47 total. Peterson wasn’t far behind, with scores of 7.27 and 7.33 for a total of 14.60, but couldn’t match Moore.

 

With the victory, Moore moved into the top spot in the world rankings and is the first athlete to crest 40,000 points. She now has 41,175 after jumping ahead of Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons in second place with 37,325 points. Australian Stephanie Gilmore is in third place followed by Peterson and fellow U.S. surfers Caroline Marks and Courtney Conlogue.

 

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Moore and Peterson are currently in line to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, but four events still remain. The top eight women in the rankings at season’s end will make it, but with a maximum of two per country.

 

This was Moore’s third time in a final this year. She was the runner-up to Marks in the season-opening Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, and finished second again in the Oi Rio Pro on Sunday last month in Brazil, where she lost to Fitzgibbons.

 

Moore faced off against Marks in Jeffreys Bay in the semifinals, this time coming out on top to advance to the final. Before that she was spectacular in the quarterfinal, scoring a near-perfect 9.50 on one of her waves to beat France’s Johanne Defay.

 

Moore won her last world title in 2015. There are four contests remaining on the championship tour, and she is defending champion at three of them.

 

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.