Fitzgibbons Maintains Winning Form on Opening Day of Subaru Pro TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival in New Zealand
TARANAKI, New Plymouth/New Zealand (Thursday, April 28, 2011) – ASP World No. 2 Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) continued to ride her wave of victory to New Zealand, posting another top class performance during Round 1 of the Subaru Pro TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival in Taranaki, today.
After strong winds delayed the start of competition until 1:15pm, Round 1 was completed in great 0.5- meter left-hand waves at Back Beach, that saw no shortage of excellent rides against the snowy backdrop of Mount Taranaki.
Fitzgibbons, fresh off her maiden ASP World Title Tour victory at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Australia this week, proved her backhand to be as polished as her forehand, netting the highest two-wave heat total of the round, an 18.45 (out of a possible 20.00) to defeat Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) and Pauline Ado (FRA).
“It still feels exciting coming straight off a win at Bells,” Fitzgibbons said. “I feel like my surfing has been on the right track for the last couple of years but I was making a few mistakes. I think I’ve learned a lot from the ins and outs of losing as well as winning so it feels really nice to get another win out here today.”
Driving unprecedented speed off her flawless bottom turns, Fitzgibbons posted the top five individual wave scores of the day, which include her winning 8.95 and 9.50 (out of 10) rides.
“I’m so psyched to be going left, we’ve had Snapper and Bells and we’ve been going right for so long, so it’s a nice change to be looking down the line the other way,” Fitzgibbons said.
Four times ASP World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) shone just as brightly in the wind affected waves, her superb wave selection proving crucial to her victory when she stroked into the best wave of the heat in the dying minutes to unleash a powerful series of backhand snaps on a reeling lefthander for a near perfect 9.00 ride.
“Its actually pretty fun out there, there’s a good little left and it was nice to feel some power in the wave,” Gilmore said. “It’s an interesting experience sitting in the lineup looking at a snow covered mountain but I love it, it’s really raw here and it’s great to be back.”
Gilmore, who has had a relatively slow start to the season, posting equal fifth and third place results at the first two events of the season, now finds herself in the ASP World No. 4 position, and while sealing a victory over Laura Enever (AUS) and Alana Blanchard (USA) today, sighted two of today’s standout girls to beat at this year’s event.
“I think Sally Fitzgibbons and Carissa Moore will be tough to beat this year, the Hawaiian girls are looking really strong and Sally having just come off a win, is looking like the girl to beat,” Gilmore said.
Local surf star Paige Hareb (NZ) attracted a large crowd during her round clash against Chelsea Hedges (AUS) and Tyler Wright (AUS), the ASP Women’s World Title Tour’s only kiwi surfer proving determined to advance in first place.
“I was lucky to get the two better waves of the whole heat,” Hareb said. “I just surfed them and didn’t try too hard, I wanted to get a score under my belt and it paid off. It’s my best result of the season so I’m stoked.”
ASP World Tour rookie Courtney Conlogue (USA) out-surfed tour veterans Silvana Lima (BRA) and Rebecca Woods (AUS), holding nothing back to advance with a pair of excellent 8.00 rides.
“I didn’t know if I’d scored an eight or a six so I just tried to stay busy and keep the exchanges going ‘cos its hard to hear out there,” Conlogue admitted. “I was so ready to surf at 7am this morning but it was called off until lunch time so you’ve just got to be able to turn it off and on, I’m definitely learning that this year.”
ASP World No. 1 and defending event champion Carissa Moore (HAW) joined fellow Round 1 winners by advancing into Round 3 ahead of wildcard Sarah Mason (NZL) and tour veteran Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS).
“The waves were pretty good, but I’m not too psyched with my performance,” Moore said. “I didn’t get too many great waves and only scored two sixes. I wish I could have done a better job but we had some fun waves and at least I’m through.”
The final heat of the day revealed an intense battled between Hawaii’s Melanie Bartels and Coco Ho, the pair exchanging rides with Bartels advancing ahead of Ho by less than a point.
Surfers will reconvene at Fitzroy Beach for the next call at 06.30 tomorrow.
The TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival will be webcast LIVE via http://www.nzsurffestival.co.nz/
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TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Paige Hareb (NZL) 15.00; Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 7.90; Tyler Wright (AUS) 6.75
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.10; Silvana Lima (PER) 14.10; Rebecca Woods (AUS) 11.20
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.75; ); Sarah Mason (NZL) 11.30; Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 10.50
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 18.45; Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 15.53; Pauline Ado (FRA) 10.00
Heat 5: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.10; Laura Enever (AUS) 9.15; Alana Blanchard (HAW) 3.10
Heat 6: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 13.95; Coco Ho (HAW) 13.40; Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 12.90