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Fitzgibbons in form at Fiji: the top women surfers return after seven years

The world's best female surfers made history at Restaraunts. They returned to the island of Tavarua for the Fiji Women's Pro.
The world's best female surfers made history at Restaraunts. They returned to the island of Tavarua for the Fiji Women's Pro.
ASP/ Kirstin Scholtz

TAVARUA, Fiji: After seven years, the top 17 professional women surfers returned to Fiji for the number five stop on the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP Women’s World Championship Tour (WCT). The women’s energy was electric as they prepared to surf world-class reef breaks. Stephanie Gilmore, Bianca Buitendag, and Tatiana Weston-Webb (replacement surfer) made official ASP surf history in the first heat at Restaurants.

Sally Fitzgibbons at Cloudbreak
Sally Fitzgibbons at Cloudbreak
ASP/ Robertson

Although the competition was held at the world-class waves, Cloudbreak and Restaraunts, there were a few days where the competition was on standby. The final was rather slow moving, too. Although Stephanie Gilmore was in excellent form throughout the competition, a modest 3.0 score from Fitzgibbons would edge her out. Sally Fitzgibbons secured back to back victories in Rio and again in Fiji. Fitzgibbons provided a surfing analogy: “I guess wins come in waves for me. To win in beach breaks in Rio last week and then in reef breaks in Fiji this week is a huge boost to my confidence.”

Malia Manuel, Dimity Stoyle, Laura Enever, and Tatiana Weston-Webb were surprise performance standouts in Fiji. Despite broken boards, being injured (possible hand injury or concussion), and rallying against staunch competitors like Johanne Defay, Malia Manuel fought for her best result since 2012! Dimity Stoyle defeated reigning number one champion, Carissa Moore, in the Quarterfinals. The highest-ranked rookie on tour effervesced, “This has been the best event of my life. […] to take down Carissa [Moore] and come up against my hero, Steph [Gilmore] in the Semifinals in pumping Cloudbreak is like a dream. [I’m] really stoked to be here.” After patiently awaiting the tide, Laura Enever surfed really well at Restaurants. She combined tubes with turns and attacked the lip with reckless abandon. Her skill was rewarded with high scores. Hawaiian, Tatiana, was able to hold her own against Lakey Peterson early on in Round 2 and charge later on. Tatiana was excited for the opportunity to surf for the previously injured, Courtney Conlogue, telling reporters that she had been preparing by surfing for five hours a day.

Unfortunately, Malia and Courtney were not the only ones who were sustaining injuries. Nikki Van Dijk was left bruised and bleeding after sustaining injuries to her face, chest, and arms during Round 1. She was withdrawn from the competition and given immediate medical attention. The broken boards and injuries are a reminder of just how powerful these waves can be, especially when coupled with a reef break. Yet, these world-class female surfers are excited to have surfed world-class breaks, to have made history at Restaurants, and to have returned to Fiji after a seven year hiatus.

Fiji Women’s Pro Final Result:
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.00 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 8.73

Fiji Women’s Pro Semifinal Results:
Semifinal 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.50 def. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 5.33
Semifinal 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.24 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.86

Fiji Women’s Pro Quarterfinal Results:
Quarterfinal 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.50 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 13.50
Quarterfinal 2: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 6.83 Carissa Moore (HAW) 5.34
Quarterfinal 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.27 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 1.90
Quarterfinal 4: Malia Manuel (HAW) 9.50 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 8.93

Fiji Women’s Pro Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 16.90 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 14.84
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.07 def. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 15.13
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.57 def. Tyler Wright (AUS) 13.93
Heat 4: Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.50 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 7.00

For more info and LIVE webcast: www.aspworldtour.com