Gilmore, the four-time ASP women’s world champion, hit a massive 18.60 despite only catching four waves in her round three heat.
The 24-year-old Australian was utterly clinical as she ruthlessly hit the waves which presented themselves to her, and took control of the competition.
“It was really fun out there,” Gilmore said. “I was just so excited to go surfing. That’s when you have the most fun in heats and when you get the best scores, when you’re excited to surf.
“There were lefts, rights and every wave out there is really high quality. With a high score like that it should have been an easy heat, but Malia (Manuel) and Paige (Hareb) were ripping, they were throwing eights and sevens back at me.
“This would probably have to be the best surf we’ve had at this event.”
American Lakey Peterson posted the highest single wave score of the event thus far in her round two heat against New Zealander Sarah Mason with 9.85 out of a possible 10.
Peterson timed her carves, snaps and fin throws to perfection to post the massive score and claim the heat win.
“That was just a really good wave and I think anybody would have gotten a 9.85 on that,” Peterson said.
“It was a good right that lined up all the way to the beach and offered me plenty of opportunity.
“It was really fun. I had a blast out there, yesterday was onshore and a bit tricky, but today the wind is offshore and it’s really peaky and fun. It reminded me of Lower Trestles in California a lot.”
Paige Hareb, the Taranaki local and hometown hero bounced back from a shock round one defeat on Wednesday and defeated Pauline Ado of France in their round two encounter.
Hareb only won by 0.40, but it was still enough to see her safely into the next round.
“I wasn’t finishing my waves yesterday,” Hareb said. “So today I made sure I got a couple of good turns on the same wave. Then I started frothing a little bit and took off on a couple of bad waves, but I’m stoked to get through the heat.
“It’s cool to have everyone down here. It’s the only chance they get to see an ASP Women’s World Championship Tour event in person instead of seeing it live on the computer. It’s great to have all the top girls here and inspire all the little kids.”
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Rebecca Woods (AUS)
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Sofia Mulanovich (PER)
Heat 1: Paige Hareb (NZL) 16.33 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 12.33
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 13.37 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.50
Heat 1: Laura Enever (AUS) 17.00, Sage Erickson (USA) 14.40, Tyler Wright (AUS) 9.55
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 18.60, Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.25, Paige Hareb (NZL) 14.00
Heat 3: Lakey Peterson (USA) 17.20, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.25, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 12.70
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.10, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.55, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 9.60
Heat 1: Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.50 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 12.10
Heat 2: Rebecca Woods (AUS) 10.50 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 7.15
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.25 def. Gaby Sansom (NZL) 3.85
Heat 4: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 16.50 def. Justine Dupont (FRA) 12.95
Heat 5: Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.75 def. Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 12.80
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) 17.86 def. Sarah Mason (NZL) 11.85