By her own admission, Hawaiian Carissa Moore did not do a particularly good job of defending her first world surfing championship two years ago.
But lessons have been learnt and she’s off to a much better start this time around.
Moore and Australian Stephanie Gilmore are tied for the lead in the world title race coming into the third event of the season, the Rip Curl Pro at iconic Bells Beach.
Gilmore jumped out of the blocks by winning the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast and Moore hit back straight away with victory earlier this month at the Margaret River Pro.
“I’ve never thought of Steph as a rival, but I really respect her as a competitor,” the 21-year-old Moore told AAP on Tuesday.
“She’s won five world titles and she really knows how to do the whole thing.
“It’s not just about surfing heats. It’s about handling life on the road, ignoring the distractions, being mentally there at every event and being consistent.
“That’s a really hard thing to do so I have a lot of respect for her.”
Moore did not win any events in her first title defence in 2012, although her consistency was still good enough for third place overall behind Gilmore and another Australian, Sally Fitzgibbons.
But the Hawaiian bounced back to reclaim the crown last year, winning four of eight events, including a first-ever victory at Bells Beach.
“You go from the position of hunting to being hunted,” said Moore, who became the youngest-ever women’s surfing world champion when she lifted the title in 2011 at the age of 18.
“I’m learning how to deal with that and more than anything it’s dealing with pressure from yourself.
“At the end of the day it’s not about winning the contest, it’s about performing at my best and doing what I love and hopefully inspiring people.
“If I look at the bigger picture I can take some of the pressure off.”
The Rip Curl Pro is scheduled to start on Wednesday, with Moore to take on Australians Dimity Stoyle and Zoe Clarke in the opening round.
Gilmore is pitted against countrywoman Laura Enever and Frenchwoman Johanne Defay in her first-round heat.
Conditions are expected to peak over the Easter long weekend – and Moore can’t wait.
“This wave definitely reminds me a lot of some of our waves back home in Hawaii,” she said.
“I love the Bells bowl and hopefully we will get the waves to perform on.”