South Coast pair battle for world title

Gerroa's Sally Fitzgibbons.
Gerroa's Sally Fitzgibbons.

HEADING into the year’s 10th and final World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) event in Hawaii – the Maui Women's Pro, Gerroa’s Sally Fitzgibbons and Culburra Beach’s Tyler Wright sit in one and two on the leaderboard respectively.

Despite strong performances in the opening rounds, both Fitzgibbons and Wright were knocked out in the semi-finals of the recent Roxy Pro France.

World number one coming into Hossegor, Fitzgibbons, could not match eventual champions Carissa Moore’s flair in their semi-final clash and claimed an equal third place for the fifth time this season.

“It’s been great to use the week we had to kind of better myself away from competition and keep surfing,” Fitzgibbons said.

“Carissa (Moore) got the jump with that first 8.67 and it was tough to find one, in the end I needed that nine point wave.

“I feel like my surfing was there, I really just didn’t bump into the opportunity.

“It’s good to be consistent throughout the year, but you know I have the desire, I want to win events and be on that podium.”

Culburra Beach's Tyler Wright.  Photo: WSL/MASUREL

Culburra Beach's Tyler Wright. Photo: WSL/MASUREL

The reigning world champion and finalist last year in France, Wright brought her A-game to the semi-finals but found a massive hurdle on her road to the final as United States’ Lakey Peterson posted a near-perfect 9.43 opener.

With a third semi-final finish in 2017, Wright will move up to second on the leaderboard with a shot at defending her maiden world title in Hawaii.

Coming off a difficult week in Portugal, where Wright sustained a knee injury prior to the event start, a hard working road to recovery with her entourage saw the powerful regular-foot come back to form just in time to compete in France.

“I’ve actually enjoyed the journey of this injury,” Wright said.

“It’s actually pushed me forward at an accelerated rate.

“I have such a deep appreciation for all the time and efforts that everyone around me have put in, especially this week.

“It makes competing incredibly enjoyable and I’m so lucky to have them on my side.”

The final event on the women’s CT schedule will run from November 25 - December 6 in Honolua Bay, Maui.

Wright’s brother Owen, currently in fourth in the rankings, was bounced out in round five of the Quiksilver Pro France by Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz and will now look to move up the leaderboard at event 10 on the men’s schedule in Portugal, from October 20-31 at the MEO Rip Curl Pro.