When there's a men's 6-star prime at Lowers in the same contest window, it's easy for a women's contest overseas to get overlooked. But event No. 5 of the Women's WQS season—their first 6-star this year—is certainly worthy of note, especially given the fact that most of the World Tour surfers were in attendance, and that (as seems to be the trend right now) the young Tour rookies put on another impressive show, dominating the event.
After the heated semifinals where Hawaiians Coco Ho and Carissa Moore squared off and World Tour surfers Jessi Miley-Dyer and Sally Fitzgibbons exchanged blows, it was Sally and Coco who made their way to the Final, a high-scoring rookie showdown. It was a back-and-forth race to the finish, with Coco scoring a nearly perfect 9.8 on a flawless set wave and Sally answering back with a 9.85 and an 8.75—two substantial scores which eventually secured her position atop of the WQS podium once again. After dominating the 'QS season last year, Sally has focused the first portion of 2009 on World Tour events—and has waited until now to reenter the qualifying-series race. We caught up with her to find out what we missed while we were all busy watching the webcast at Trestles.
Tell us about the conditions for the comp and how the final went down.
It was great to have a mobile event, so we could utilize the best waves on the day. The majority of the contest was surfed at a right-hand reefbreak in town—some of the best waves we have had in a contest for a while. It was offshore, sunny, and 4-foot. The comp fell on a great weekend for waves and weather.
The Final was definitely a see-sawing affair. It was so good to surf it with Coco—a great friend of mine—and the waves seemed to be the best they had been all day. It was a really tough heat and after surfing a few rounds already during the day, we were both giving it all we had left. It's an amazing feeling to come out on top.
How was spending the week in Portugal?
This is my third trip to Portugal, but my first to the Northern side of Lisbon. Previously, I went south of Lisbon to compete in the Junior and Open ISA events. I love coming here to Portugal, and to explore a new part of the coast was really exciting. We lucked into some good swell this time around and got to surf so many new waves. Portugal is a great location for events—it has everything your looking for. Pack your fullsuit though—it can get quite chilly. I look forward to returning to Portugal very soon.
You're currently ranked 16th on the 'QS, having only done one event this year— which other events are you planning on doing?
That was my first 'QS event for the year and to get the win here in Portugal was definitely a confidence boost after coming off an earlier injury at the start of the year. From here, I guess the major WQS events are in the cards, but nothing's locked in just yet.
What would say was the highlight of the event?
The highlight of the trip would have to be eating one of the best Portuguese tarts of all time [laughs]. It was an amazing feeling to take out the event—it was definitely a memorable one, everyone was pushing each other and surfing extremely well. It was a highlight just to be a part of the event and scoring the waves we did. We also took off up the coast looking for waves without a map on one of the days, and we got so lost we ended following the sun looking for the ocean…it was hilarious.
There looks to be a long break before the next World Tour event, what are your plans in the downtime?
I believe the World Tour event in Brazil is still tentative—it would be a shame to loose it, but we will just have to wait and see. Brazil has so much to offer and is an amazing location for a World Tour event. To fill in the gaps between events, I have a couple of trips planned: one to the Mentawis and one to Mexico, which I'm looking forward to, and also a couple of WQS events fall in this time—which would be great lead-up events for the next World Tour stop.
Estoril Billabong Girls Pro Results
1. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
2. Coco Ho (HAW)
3. Carissa Moore (HAW), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)