TARANAKI, New Plymouth/New Zealand
ASP World No. 2 Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) continued to push the envelope and revealing the depth of her surfing talent by smashing the scoreboard with near perfect scores to charge into the quarterfinals of the ASP Subaru Pro TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival in New Zealand on Friday April 29, 2011.
Clean half-meter waves at Back Beach, Taranaki saw rounds two and three completed and the eight Quarterfinalists decided.
By far the event’s top performer, Fitzgibbons’ confidence was palpable as she unleashed yet another flawless performance to post 9.75 and 9.25 scores (out of ten) for a combined heat total of 19.00 (out of 20.00), defeating Chelsea Hedges (AUS) and Melanie Bartels (HAW) .
“I guess I just have a lot of confidence right now, I feel like my surfing was improving especially at the start of the year and I really wanted to bring that to my events and try to showcase some of the things I’ve been working on,” Fitzgibbons said. “It’s almost like feedback getting good scores, it means I’m on the right track.”
While high scores and standout performances are not uncharacteristic from Fitzgibbons, it remains to be seen whether her victory at Bells has changed the playing field for the Aussie talent who will be determined to take the podium’s top spot at the weekend’s final.
“Of course it is difficult to keep that momentum going but I think it’s all about trying to pick the eyes out of what you’ve got on the day. These waves are similar to what I surf at home and I’m just trying to surf nice and fast bring something new to the table and get in that excellent scoring range, it’s definitely tricky.”
ASP World No. 7 Courtney Conlogue (USA) completed a dream performance during round 3, taking down ASP ratings leader and defending Subaru Pro Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) in dramatic fashion.
“Carissa has been on game this whole year, she’s been performing really well so it was good to get one up on her today,” Conlogue said. “I lost against her in the Quarterfinals at Bells and she ended up getting into the finals so it feels pretty good to know I don’t have to surf again in Round 4.”
Conlogue unleashed her powerful, vertical surfing, sticking to her ‘Carissa Moore game plan’ by opening with an excellent 8.25 and sealing the deal with an 8.75 (both out of ten) to advance into the Quarterfinals.
“Anytime you have a heat against Carissa you know you need to get above sevens to win and, even then, you might need nines. This year is really a learning year for me, it would be nice to be top five and it’s a definitely a goal of mine so I’m trying as hard as I can get there.”
Coco Ho (HAW) proved another of the day’s giant killers, joining local favourite Paige Hareb in taking down four times ASP World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) who placed third.
“It was kinda just one of those heats where you have nothing to lose, that‘s how I always look at it with Steph,” Ho said. “I’ve had all Quarterfinals so far this year so I’m really looking to get past that round and hopefully get a good result.”
ASP World Tour rookie Tyler Wright bounced back from a slow start yesterday, keeping busy in her Round 3 exchange by building on her scores before locking in a 7.25 followed by a 7.75 (both out of 10) to snatch the win off Silvana Lima (BRA) and Rebecca Woods (AUS).
“I kind of sussed it out this morning and that helped a lot through that heat,” Wright said. “I think the main thing for me was to keep busy and just try and build on my scores and that’s what I did.”
The current ASP World No. 3 is a recognized threat on this year’s ASP Women’s World Title Tour and has her target firmly fixed on the current front runners.
“It’s pretty cool to get through that one but Sal and Carissa are still ripping and they’re probably the benchmark at the moment. Sal is surfing unbelievably well and I’m still trying to get there but I’m just going to keep working at it and make sure I have fun along the way.”
The TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival will be webcast LIVE via http://www.nzsurffestival.co.nz/