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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Sat, 8 April 2017

Australian Sally Fitzgibbons stands #1 in the world tied with compatriot Stephanie Gilmore after she won the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro today against 2016 WSL Champion Tyler Wright.  

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SALLY FIZZING: Fitzgibbons gave a commanding performance in the final. Photo WSL / Dunbar

The Final Day of the women’s event saw the remaining four competitors compete in 3-5' surf at Main Break in Western Australia. Fitzgibbons claimed her first win at Margaret River got her 10th CT victory in the 2nd stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). She is now tied at #1 on the Jeep Leaderboard with six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS).

“When I heard my name being called out as the champion, I really felt a sense of belonging and calm," Fitzgibbons said. "It’s been an amazing couple of weeks here in the West and to finish it off with a win is the best feeling. I love coming to Margaret River. I feel like it’s a place that I am super comfortable and familiar with, so it’s a special event win for me.”

The Final saw an all-Aussie affair

The Final saw an all-Aussie affair, with Fitzgibbons starting off with an authoritative 7.83 on her opening ride. Wright fired back with multiple mid-range scores. Fitzgibbons cranked up the pressure with a 7.07, forcing Wright to chase an excellent 8.30. On her last attempt, Wright was not able to challenge Fitzgibbons’ 14.90 combined score.

Defending event winner Wright had a dominating run on her way to the Final, posting the event’s highest heat totals along the way. “I was actually pretty happy with the way I ran the heat,” said Wright. “Just the waves, I thought, were a little bit trickier towards the end there and I just didn’t get a clean line, but I am stoked for Sally [Fitzgibbons] to come away with the win. I’ve known Sally since I was 9-years-old. We live in the same town now, and we are both from the South Coast. I am stoked that both of us were in the Final.”

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THAT WINNING FEELING: Fitzgibbons moves to #1 on the leaderboard. Photo WSL / Dunbar

Wright’s result will improve her ranking from 5th to 3rd on the Jeep Leaderboard. Although the 2016 WSL Champion was not able to defend her event win in WA, Wright will look to best last year’s 5th place finish at Bells to close out the Australian leg.

Fitzgibbons had the mammoth task of overcoming six-time WSL Champion Gilmore in Semifinal 2. Gilmore played a patient game waiting for the sets, but was not able to post required scores, leaving her only 0.50-points short of the heat win. Gilmore was frustrated by her performance, but will remain atop the Jeep Leaderboard.

“That really didn’t go to plan,” Gilmore said. “Before the heat, my plan was to stay really active and then once I was out there, it didn’t really work out that way. I couldn’t really find a decent wave that would offer an excellent score. In conditions like this you can’t expect to find those waves that easily, so you need to keep busy, and I didn’t do that. Third is definitely a keeper. It would be nice to win them all, that’s what we are here for, but third is definitely nice.”

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WRONG SIDE: Despite a spectacular run, Wright fell at the final hurdle Photo WSL / Dunbar

On her way to the final, Wright came up against Californian Sage Erickson (USA) who had been on a tear all event. Erickson was put in a combination early, but put up a great fight to come back into contention in the second half of the heat. Erickson’s 3rd place finish matches her best result on the elite CT level and stamps her best ever finish at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. Erickson now moves to 10th place on the Jeep Rankings.

With the men’s final series still remaining, event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 6:45 a.m. local time to make the next call.

Surfline, official forecast for the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, are calling for: The best surf of the remaining period will occur on Sunday with strong swell and favorable wind. Saturday will see smaller, but still good size, surf in the morning along with some possible leftover lump and bump (although early morning wind should be light).

For more information, check out www.worldSurfLeague.com 

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Final Results
1 - Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.90
2 - Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.53

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Semifinal Results
SF 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.00 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 12.17
SF 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.43 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 10.93

2017 WSL Women’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Drug Aware Margaret River Pro)
1 - Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16,500 pts
1 - Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16,500 pts
3 - Tyler Wright (AUS) 13,200 pts
4 - Carissa Moore (HAW) 10,400 pts
4 - Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10,400 pts

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Quarterfinal Match-Ups
QF 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
QF 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
QF 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)

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