TARANAKI, New Plymouth/New Zealand (Saturday, April 30, 2011) – Sally Fitzgibbons, (AUS), 20, has well and truly shaken the proverbial ‘runner-up-monkey’ off her back, taking her second consecutive elite tour victory, winning the ASP Subaru Pro TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival in Taranaki, New Zealand today.
Fresh off her maiden victory at Bells Beach last week, Fitzgibbons proved her ‘bridesmaid days were over’, defeating defending event champion and ratings leader Carissa Moore, (HAW), 18, to secure the ASP Women’s World No. 1 position.
“This means the world to me, I’m so stoked to get a win here in New Zealand,” Fitzgibbons said. “Last year I got runner-up so to take the win today is extra special.”
While an increase in swell provided great morning conditions, low tide during the final wrecked havoc with the lineup, Fitzgibbons choosing to sit on the far right bank a few hundred meters away from Moore, who chose to sit on the left.
“The waves today were pretty challenging,” Fitzgibbons said. “Entering the water I saw a little peak down the beach, it was a risky move but it paid off this time. I just went out there and thought I’m in the final and I just wanted to go for it and that’s where I was going to surf. “
Picking off two racy right-handers, unleashing an exciting variety of critical maneuvers Fitzgibbons was duly rewarded with a pair of excellent 8.00 rides (out of 10) defeating Moore 16.00 to 6.86 (both out of 20.00).
“I think its great to be able to showcase some of the things I’ve been working on, I feel good and I’ve definitely got a lot more to give, that’s the exciting thing! I can’t wait for the next event!”
With just 500 points now separating the two surfers, the race for this year’s ASP Women’s World Title is taking shape.
“Its always a bonus to be having the time of your life surfing and the cherry on the top is to be getting wins like this and some points under the belt,” Fitzgibbons continued. “To be honest I’m so focused on each event that I’m not looking too far into the future, I’m just sort of taking it as it comes so it’s good to have these events back to back.”
Moore, was forced to settled with her second runner-up finish this season, posting two great performances in the quarterfinals and the semifinals but was unable to find the waves she needed to beat Fitzgibbons in the final.
“I definitely chose the wrong spot in the lineup,” Moore said. “Sally did a really good job, she was really smart, she picked the right spot in the lineup and she definitely came into play and put on a good performance. She’s been consistent all week so good on Sally.”
A determined competitor, Moore kept no secrets about her will to claim back the World No. 1 position.
“I’m super stoked to still be in contention,” Moore continued. “Obviously as an athlete you don’t want to get second, you want to win but this rivalry is definitely good for the sport and as for the No. 1 position, I want it! Hopefully we’ll have some good match ups for the rest of the year.”
ASP rookie Tyler Wright, 17, (AUS) netted an equal third place finish reaching the semifinals where she was defeated by, Moore for the second time this year.
“Carissa was surfing amazing I think she got all the right waves out there, she’s had a great year so far and she’s won both times we’ve met but a third is still a really good result for me,” Wright said.
Today’s outcome proved a repeat of their final duel at the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast, Wright struggling to find the waves that would offer her the scoring potential, her result today nevertheless maintaining her World No. 3 position.
“I’m a rookie so obviously I’ve made a lot of rookie mistakes. Every heat I learn as I go and to be at World No. 3, I couldn’t really ask to be in a better spot right now.”
Despite a disappointing semifinals performance, Coco Ho, (HAW), 20, finished with her best result of the season, placing equal third place after being defeated by Fitzgibbons without so much as a point on the scoreboard, during their semifinal clash. Suffering one of the hardest conditions of the day at the change of the tide, Ho found herself lost at sea finishing with just a 0.8 heat total.
Four times ASP World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) placed equal ninth, falling to an in form Chelsea Hedges (AUS) during the quarterfinals to slip down to World No. 5.
TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival Final Results
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.00 def Carissa Moore (HAW) 8.86
Heat 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.50 def Tyler Wright (AUS) 9.67
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.34 def Coco Ho (HAW) 0.80
Heat 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14. 50 def Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.50
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.77 def Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.10
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.67 def Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 13.40
Heat 4: Coco Ho (HAW) 13.40 def Paige Hareb (NZ) 8.73