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Aussie Wright wins California surf title

AAP logoAAP 14/09/2016

Australian Tyler Wright has taken a mammoth step towards claiming her first world surfing championship, winning the title at Lower Trestles in California.

Wright is now a chance to claim the world crown at the the next event in Portugal later this month after she defeated Stephanie Gilmore in an all-Australian final on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).

If Wright claims the 10,000 points for a title win in Portugal, the third-last event of the year, and second-placed Courtney Conlogue fails to reach the semi-finals, the Australian will clinch the crown.

Even if that fails to eventuate, Wright is in the box seat heading into the end of the season given her 7250-point lead over the American will only grow further given surfers can drop their worst two results of the season.

"It doesn't really change much for me what I set out to do this year," Wright said.

"I set out with a goal to win every heat and win every final and learn along the way.

"I'll go into the next event with that same attitude."

Wright's fourth victory of the year never looked in doubt after she posted a wave ride of 8.50 to open the heat, before finishing with a combined score 17.13 despite continuing to battle an ankle injury.

Gilmore struggled to mount a competitive reply until late, and despite ending the heat with a ride of 9.13, she finished with a combined total of 15.13 in swells of a metre.

"Today was just a big smile," Wright said.

"I had Steph in the final and I knew I had to get on the bigger waves because she surfs so good.

"Surfing against Steph and growing up with Steph as someone I look up to, I still look up to her now, she's honestly my surfing idol."

Earlier, Gilmore produced the highest heat score of the women's event to defeat fellow Australian Nikki Van Dijk in the semi-final.

In pursuit of her first tour victory since 2014 after suffering a serious knee injury last year, the six-time world champion logged 18.60 to reach the final.

"I love this place, I love this wave," Gilmore said.

"It's so rippable. It's a skate park.

"There's no real fear of getting hurt or big waves. It's just a really fun place."

Meanwhile Wright claimed her spot in the final by beating the US's Sage Erickson by a margin of 0.43.

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