TARANAKI, New Zealand (Wednesday, April 11, 2012) - The TSB Bank NZ Surf Festival featuring the Dow AgroSciences Pro ran the opening Round of competition at Taranaki's Fitzroy Beach today. Two-to-three foot (1.5 meter) long lefts and rights peeled off at Fitzroy Beach, providing the competitors the perfect stage to kick off their 2012 Dow AgroSciences Pro campaigns.
Stop No. 3 of 7 on the 2012 ASP Women's World Championship Tour, the Dow AgroSciences Pro is pivotal in the chase for the prestigious ASP Women's World Title and gives the Top 17 female surfers in the world the chance to experience the world-class waves New Zealand has to offer.
Laura Enever (AUS), 20, started her TSB Bank NZ Surf Festival featuring the Dow AgroSciences Pro campaign in excellent form, posting four of the five top wave scores of the day. Enever had a slow start to her opening Round heat, and was sitting in 3rd place until she caught a left-hand runner and unleashed some explosive backhand turns to jump into 1st place and advance directly into Round 3.
"I think I was trying to force things a bit too much at the start," Enever said. "I caught a couple of waves all the way to the shore and didn't get much of a score. So I changed my game plan to try to do the biggest turns I could and it paid off. I did two turns and got a 8.60 (out of a possible 10), and after that I got some other big scores. It was great way to finish a heat."
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 24, four-time ASP Women's World Champion and current ASP Women's World No. 1, continued her devastating run-of-form from the first two events into the TSB Bank New Zealand Surf Festival featuring the Dow AgroSciences Pro. Gilmore came up against two New Zealand teenagers, Sarah Mason (NZL), 17, and event wildcard Gaby Sansom (NZL), 15 and the tour veteran scored a near-perfect 9.50 (out of a possible 10) to easily take the heat win.
"Sarah (Mason) has beaten me at this event in the past," Gilmore said. "And last night I was wondering how Gaby (Sansom) surfed, so I looked her up online and she surfs really well! Luckily there was lots of waves in that heat and I stayed busy and kept my mind off them. It's pretty tiring having all these events so close together. This morning when I woke up I was praying they would have a lay-day, but the waves were really fun so I'm glad we ran."
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 21, defending event champion posted an impressive heat win today. Fitzgibbons is brimming with confidence after taking out last week's Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
"It was a dream to win back-to-back at Bells last week," Fitzgibbons said. "Then coming here to New Zealand it's all about adapting to the beachbreaks. I love surfing here, it's similar to home. I think all the community support at this event is unreal. It looks like the swell is going to hang around for the week which is exciting."
Sage Erickson (USA), 21, 2012 ASP World Championship Tour rookie, caused the upset of the day by defeating 2011 ASP Women's World Champion, Carissa Moore (HAW), 19, and local hero Paige Hareb (NZL), 21, in their opening Round clash. Erickson used her sharp backhand attack to earn some decent scores and win an extremely close heat.
"It was a big heat on paper," Erickson said. "I'm just looking to gain confidence and experience in heats like that by beating those big names. It feel really good to come out on top of that one. It's funny, even though I'm a regular footer, I feel more confident on my backside. I saw that last year most of the waves here were lefts so I was excited to come to New Zealand for this event. It's a beautiful place and I'm just trying to absorb it all."
The TSB Bank New Zealand Surf Festival featuring the Dow AgroSciences Pro made history today by being the first ASP Women's World Championship Tour event to feature three New Zealanders. ASP Women's World Championship Tour campaigner Paige Hareb (NZL), 21, was joined in the event by countrywomen Sarah Mason (NZL), 17, and event wildcard Gaby Sansom (NZL), 15.
The TSB Bank NZ Surf Festival featuring the Dow AgroSciences Pro will run from April 11 - 15 and will be webcast LIVE via http://nzsurffestival.co.nz
For additional ASP information log on to www.aspworldtour.com
TSB BANK NZ SURF FESTIVAL ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Laura Enever (AUS) 17.05, Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.50, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 10.75
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 15.00, Coco Ho (HAW) 13.65, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 6.00
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 17.75, Sarah Mason (NZL) 9.34, Gaby Sansom (NZL) 4.00
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.60, Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.95, Justine Dupont (FRA) 9.80
Heat 5: Sage Erickson (USA) 11.50, Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.50, Paige Hareb (NZL) 8.63
Heat 6: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.15, Pauline Ado (FRA) 12.50, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 8.70