Nowra surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has begun her 2013 season in flying form by winning the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 6-star-rated Breaka Burleigh Pro on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Fitzgibbons defeated world-ranked number-five surfer Courtney Conlogue (USA) in a tense high-scoring final on a scoreline of 16.00 to 15.90.
Conlogue led for most of the final and looked in complete control after she locked-in an excellent 8.00 ride early and backed it up shortly after with a strong 7.90 ride.
With just on six minutes remaining in the 30-minute final Fitzgibbons, requiring a very high score of 8.9 to take the lead, found a good wave and unleashed a series of well-connected powerful trademark bottom-through-top-turn manoeuvres to score nine points and take the win.
‘I knew what I had to do late in the final and thankfully the wave co-operated and delivered the potential required to get the score,’ said Fitzgibbons. ‘I felt I got the score when I landed the last move, gave myself a fist pump I was that confident.
‘It’s a great start to 2013. I’ve worked hard on improving over the past few months and I’m really looking forward to the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast in a few weeks’ time.’
At 22 years of age Fitzgibbons already has an exceptional professional surfing career record that includes runner-up to the world title for the past three years, and clearly her focus this season is to go one better and claim a world title.
Conlogue was philosophical, but pleased with her second-place result today. ‘It’s a good start to the year for me and I felt like I surfed well all event,’ she said after the event. ‘We’ve had great waves here at Burleigh and right now I feel ready for the Roxy Pro at Snapper Rocks.
‘Towards the end of the final I knew I had the lead but I never underestimate Sally; she’s a great surfer and always capable of 9-point rides – I was trying to better my score and she was going for a 9-point ride – she got what she required and that’s just the way it goes sometimes.’
Third in the Pro Women’s was Sydney surfer Laura Enever, who went down in a very close semifinal to Conlogue and Hawaiian Malia Manuel, who bowed out to Fitzgibbons in the other semifinal.
Men’s quarterfinalists were also decided today after four heats of the round of 16 were decided.
Top seed Mick Fanning bowed out of competition after failing to out-point Marco Fernandez (Bra) and Gold Coast surfer, Mitch Crews.
Tweed’s Fanning had one excellent score in his required two-wave tally of an 8.23, and required just a 6.47-second score to get through.
His final ride went agonisingly close posting a 6.43, just four-hundredths of a point short.
Lennox Heads’ Owen Wright again put on a powerful display of backhand surfing to win his heat ahead of Coolangatta’s Brent Dorrington, who advanced in second. ‘It was pretty tricky out there. I just had to try to concentrate on choosing the right waves and try and to make sure I executed one or two big turns on each wave,’ said Wright. ‘We’re at the serious end of the event and it’s generally the more powerful performances that win through.’
Ricardo Christie (NZ), Adam Melling (Aus), Marco Fernandez (Bra), Mitch Crews (Aus), Owen Wright (Aus), Brent Dorrington (Aus), Alejo Muniz (Bra) and Thomas Woods (Aus) are the final eight quarterfinalists.
Breaka Burleigh Pro Women’s 6-Star
Final: Sally Fitzgibbons (Aus) 16.00, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.90
Semifinals: Semi 1: Sally Fitzgibbons 16.73, Malia Manuel (Haw) 13.17.? Semi 2: Courtney Conlogue 14.77, Laura Enever (Aus) 14.47
Breaka Burleigh Pro Men’s Round of 16
Heat 1: Ricardo Christie (NZ) 14.33, Adam Melling (Aus) 14.13, Bede Durbidge (Aus) 12.54, Ryan Callinan (Aus) 11.90.? Heat 2: Marco Fernandez (Bra) 15.60, Mitch Crews (Aus) 14.70, Mick Fanning (Aus) 14.66, Jack Duggan (Aus) 7.83. ?Heat 3: Owen Wright (Aus) 15.50, Brent Dorrington (Aus) 12.33, Dion Atkinson (Aus) 10.03, Cooper Chapman (Aus) 8.53.? Heat 4: Alejo Muniz (Bra) 14.80, Thomas Woods (Aus) 14.03, Frederico Morais (Ptg) 13.97, Davey Cathels (Aus) 11.96
ASP – www.aspworldtour.com.