Locking in the highest wave score of the day for both men's and women's – a 9.17 – Gilmore romped home in front of her counterpart from Japan, Sayuri Hashimoto, to book a berth in the women's quarterfinals and looks to be in devastating form and on target for an event win.
On her "killer" wave Gilmore linked together a series of hard-edged turns and had the crowd hooting with appreciation.
"I managed to get a nice little wave that allowed to link together more turns that I expected," said Gilmore. "And the judges obviously liked what I did!"
Yet despite the victory looking like it came to her easily, Gilmore indicated that she had to be on her toes right throughout the heat.
"Sayuri wasn't to be underestimated at all," said Gilmore. "If she had better waves she could have won for sure. I was just stoked I managed to grab a few little waves and come home with a win."
Gilmore, who has qualified for the ASP Women's World Tour in 2007, returned to the junior ranks for this event in the hope of winning so she could lay claim to world title status and stand alongside Layne Beachley (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) at the ASP World Champions Banquet coming up in just over a month's time.
Plus she indicated that a victory here would be a great way to start off what she hopes will be a stellar 2007.
"You can't turn down an invitation for a world title," said Gilmore. "Especially since the event is only in its second year. I'd really love to be up there at the ASP Banquet alongside Layne Beachley and Kelly Slater. That would be a real honour. Plus it would be a huge confidence boost and a great start to the year to claim a win here."
Gilmore also gained praise from her fellow competitors with last year's runner-up Nicola Atherton (AUS), who also won through to round four today, claiming that she will be the one to beat.
"Steph was amazing today," said Atherton. "To get the score that she did today was incredible. She is definitely the one to watch."
In the men's division Mitch Coleborn (AUS) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS) headed the list of standouts with both executing some incredible aerial and tail sliding turns on their way to their respective heat wins.
Coleborn, who had to fight his way through the trials to make the main event, looked dangerous and indicated that he is confident he can go all the way.
"There's still a lot of big names in the event," said Coleborn. "And the next couple of days will be solid. But I'm feeling confident and hopefully I'll get to the final and then look to taking it out."
Wilkinson however will have other ideas as the two are now scheduled to meet in the next round.
The man they call "Wilko" was all over everything today and came home with a resounding win over Mexican surfer Angelo Lozano.
He did indicate though that at times throughout the heat he felt worried that the waves were not going to cooperate.
"The waves stopped breaking for a while and I got a bit worried," said Wilkinson. But luckily I managed to get a few away and make it through."
Wilkinson realises now that he has his work cut out for him in the next round against Coleborn but he was philosophical, pitching that whatever the result at least one Australian will make the event's quarterfinals.
"Having Mitch Coleborn next will be hard," said Wilkinson. "But every heat here is hard so it doesn't matter who you draw. It sucks that I'm surfing against another Aussie but by the same token at least one Aussie will make the quarters."
Of the internationals the number one seed Adriano de Souza (BRA) stood tall as he held off a spirited challenge from a 14-year-old Tahitian Tamaroa McComb.
Staying in the race right until the final hooter McComb showed he has plenty of potential and de Souza was full of praise.
"Yeah he did really well," said de Souza. "I was lucky to get those waves and come home with a win."
Hank Gaskell from Hawaii was also one to impress as he smoothly tore apart numerous righthand-breaking waves to inch through to the next round.
"It's small and inconsistent but every now and again there are a few that line up where you can get some turns in, said Gaskell. "I don't surf the lefts very well here as they tend to run away from you but I love the little rights with the wedges along the way – it's a lot like home."
Competition will be called off at the end of men's heat 12 and will resume tomorrow after contest director Luke Egan assesses the early morning conditions.
Today's results at time of going to press:
Women's Round Three Heat Results:
Heat 1: Alize Arnaud (FRA) 12.16 def Nikita Robb (ZAF) 11.84</b>
Heat 2: Anali Gomez (PER) 11.00 def Nao Omura (JPN) 5.33
Heat 3:Pauline Ado (FRA) 9.50 def Airini Mason (NZL) 8.97
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.20 def Sayuri Hashimoto (JPN) 9.17
Heat 5: Nicola Atherton (AUS) 10.47 def Kirstie Jones (AUS) 9.76
Heat 6: 1. Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 11.66 def Marina Werneck (BRA) 7.57
Heat 7: Coco Ho (HAW) 15.50 def Sage Ericson (USA) 7.10
Heat 8: 1. Leila Hurst (HAW) 11.67 def Erica Hosseini (USA) 8.03
Men's Round Three Heat Results:
Heat 1: Hank Gaskell (HAW) 15.66 def Rory Beach (ZAF) 9.47
Heat 2: Hideyoshi Tanaka (JPN) 15.00 def Nobuyuki Osawa (JPN) 9.36
Heat 3: Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 15.16 def Luke Cheadle (AUS) 6.13
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.33 def Angelo Lozano (MEX) 8.33
Heat 6: Heitor Pereira (BRA) 16.44 def Granger Larson (HAW) 10.50
Heat 7: Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.90 def Marc Lacomare (FRA) 8.77
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA) def Tamarao McComb (PYF)
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.67 def Bernado Martins (BRA) 9,84
Heat 10: Jean Sebastien (FRA) 10.66 def Eric Geiselman (USA) 10.43
Heat 11: Dion Atkinson (AUS) vs Brandon Jackson (ZAF)
Heat 12: Dylan Graves (PRI) vs Pierre Valentin (FRA)
Heat 13: Sam Page (AUS) vs Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 14: Gavin Gillette (HAW) vs Torrey Meister (HAW)
Heat 15: TJ Barron (HAW) vs Wade Goodall (AUS)
Heat 16: Mason Ho (HAW) vs Casey Brown (HAW)
Heat 1: Alize Arnaud (FRA) vs Anali Gomez (PER)
Heat 2: Pauline Ado (FRA) vs Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
Heat 3: Nicola Atherton (AUS) vs Lee Ann Curren (FRA)
Heat 4: Coco Ho (HAW) vs Leila Hurst (HAW)