Sally Fitzgibbons' purple patch continues as she progresses into Round Three of the TSB Bank New Zealand Surf Festival…
The opening round of the TSB Bank New Zealand Surf Festival featuring the Dow AgroSciences Pro – the third stop on the 2012 ASP Women's World Championship Tour – saw the world's elite women riding two-to-three foot long lefts and right at Fitzroy Beach in Tanarika.
Defending event champion Sally Fitzgibbons followed up her triumph at last week's Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach with a wonderful win in Round One today, beating Lakey Peterson to take the heat. The young Australian is understandably full of confidence at the moment and had this to say after her Round One performance…
"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."
Red Bull's other wave riders, reigning world champion Carissa Moore and Sofia Malunovich, will have to compete in Round Two after losing out in their respective heats – Moore to tour rookie Sage Erickson.
Fitzgibbons' fellow Australian Laura Enever notched four of the day's five top wave scores and progressed into Round Three. Four-time ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore was in devastating form as she defeated two New Zealand teenagers and scored a near-perfect 9.50 in her 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."
The event, which runs until April 15, was the first ASP competition to feature three New Zealanders – Paige Hareb, Sarah Mason and 15-year-old Gaby Sansom.