Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 20, claims her maiden ASP event at the 2011 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford Fiesta. Credit: © ASP / SCHOLTZ
BELLS BEACH, Victoria/Australia (Saturday, April 23, 2011) - Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 20, claimed her maiden ASP Women's World Title event win today after a hard-fought Final with current ASP Women's World No. 1 Carissa Moore (HAW), 18, taking out the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford Fiesta and firmly announcing herself as a threat to the 2011 ASP World Title race.
The second stop of the 2011 ASP Women's World Title season, the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach enjoyed some of the best conditions ever offered to the ASP Top 17, culminating in this afternoon's epic clash in glassy three-to-four foot (1.5 metre) waves at Rincon.
Fitzgibbons, who finished Runner-Up in three events in 2010 as well as finishing the season in the Runner-Up spot, consistently outshined her fellow ASP Top 17 members at Bells Beach, launching into incredible high scores from the opening round of competition.
"This is so overwhelming," Fitzgibbons said. "It's been a long journey for me to finally win and this is incredible. I can't feel my arms or legs and I'm just trying to keep from crying right now. It's been a really long time coming and I want to thank all the girls for pushing me as well as all my family and friends who have supported me over the years."
Today's maiden victory was made all the more emotional for the young Australian, clinching the title in the event's 50th year of operation, surrounded by her heroes and sporting icons.
"It's extra special to win it this year for the 50 years event," Fitzgibbons said. "Ever since I was a kid, I've always watched my heroes surf and win here and I've always dreamed of ringing the Bell and now that it's happened, I don't know what to say. The other night at the 50-year ball, I saw all my icons on stage and I was so inspired. So to win right now is a dream come true."
Fitzgibbons now sits at ASP Women's World No. 2 with today's win.
Moore continued her rampage amongst the world's best here at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, only falling short to Fitzgibbons in the Final. The gracious Hawaiian remains firmly in the driver's seat in this year's hunt for the ASP Women's World Title, and will look to further cement her position at next week's event in New Zealand.
"I'm stoked to have made the Final with Sally (Fitzgibbons)," Moore said. "For her to come out on top was awesome. We've have a lot of good clashes last year and this year, and her win's been a long time coming so congrats to her. Of course I would have liked to have rung the Bell, but that may have to happen next year."
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 23, reigning four-time ASP Women's World Champion, enjoyed more of a return to form at Bells Beach, but the former three-time event winner was unable to overcome a rampaging Fitzgibbons in their Semifinal clash. Today's Equal 3rd place finish has Gilmore sitting in ASP Women's World No. 4 heading into the New Zealand event.
"I felt really good this event, my surfing felt more confident," Gilmore said. "I'm happy with my performance, but hopefully I'm just building towards No. 1. Sally (Fitzgibbons) was so in form, she was throwing away scores that I was keeping as my top two, she's well deserving of the win."
Silvana Lima (BRA), 26, past event winner, put on a valiant effort in today's conditions but ultimately fell to eventual winner Moore in her Semifinal heat.
"Very happy with my performance at Bells and that we had good waves for the girls," Lima said. "I'm sad that I couldn't make the Final, but Carissa (Moore) was surfing really well and she deserves it. I'm looking forward to New Zealand."
The next stop on the 2011 ASP Women's World Title season will be the Subaru Pro TSB Bank Women's Surf Festival in Taranaki, New Zealand from April 27 - May 1, 2011.
Highlights from the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by FORD will be available via www.live.ripcurl.com and broadcast live on Fuel TV in Australia and ESPN in Brazil.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford Ranger completed Round 4 of competition this morning with Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30, Kelly Slater (USA), 39, Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, and Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, all taking out wins and advancing straight through to the Quarterfinals.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
When the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford Rangers resumes, up first will be Owen Wright (AUS), 21, against Bede Durbidge (AUS), 28, in the opening heat of Round 5.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
1 - Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.77
2 - Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.40