THE opening day of the Swatch Pro at Trestles, stop number seven of 10 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), kicked off Wednesday with round one in two-to-four foot (0.5 - 1.2 metre) waves – with Gerroa’s Sally Fitzgibbions and Culburra Beach’s Tyler Wright suffering different fates.
Current world number two Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) got off to a strong start at the Swatch Pro with a big win over 2017 CT Rookie Bronte Macaulay (AUS) and Coco Ho (HAW) in round one heat four.
Fitzgibbons earned a last-second victory with a 14.53 two-wave heat total over Macaulay’s 13.07 and Ho’s 11.27.
Fitzgibbons showcased her sharp rail carves to earn the win and will look to deliver another high-performance display in Round 3.
“I saw those last few heats and it looked a little tricky as the tide filled in and to have those back-and-forth conditions gave you that real excitement factor inside,” Fitzgibbons said.
“I saw Bronte [Macaulay] take one and it had a good line to it so I kind of assumed she would get the score.
“So I started paddling in and had to get my hands off the rails with only five seconds left, and I just felt really nice and silky on that last one.
“It’s awesome to feel that competitive experience each time, especially Coco [Ho] and myself, being on tour nine or ten years.
“We continually match-up against each other, but I feel like you never really know a surfer just because the sport and all the women are evolving so fast and improving their game.”
Unfortunately, current world number one and Trestles defending champion Wright, couldn’t replicate the form of Fitzgibbons, losing to second-year CT surfer Keely Andrew in round one heat three.
Wright captured an early lead with powerful turns for a 7.00 and 5.83, but Andrew stayed persistent and locked in a 6.00 to get back into the heat.
With time winding down, Andrew capitalized on one last opportunity to take the lead with a 7.17.
Wright was not able to meet the requirement on her last score and will be relegated to round two with fellow heat loser Macy Callaghan.
“I was pretty nervous going into the water, I just have so much respect for Tyler [Wright] and she’s smoked me so many times so to finally get a win is pretty great,” Andrew said.
“I’m pretty happy, but it’s only one heat so it’s a good confidence booster moving forward.
“It’s nice though with the results I've gotten on the QS to help give some leeway and some more confidence.
“It’s also nice to do it a bit earlier than last year so I can focus more on the CT starting now rather than later.”
Swatch Pro round one results:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.50, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 10.50, Pauline Ado (FRA) 9.00
Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA) 14.30, Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.87, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 11.97
Heat 3: Keely Andrew (AUS) 13.17, Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.83, Macy Callaghan (AUS) 7.86
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.53, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 13.07, Coco Ho (HAW) 11.27
Heat 5: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.67, Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.00, Laura Enever (AUS) 11.83
Heat 6: Sage Erickson (USA) 13.43, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 11.43, Malia Manuel (HAW) 6.47
Swatch Pro round two match-ups:
Heat 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Malia Manuel (HAW)
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 5: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)