MANLY, Sydney (Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007) – Demonstrating all the attributes of a future world beater, ASP Australasian Junior Champion and wildcard surfer Sally Fitzgibbons (Aus) edged out 7X ASP World Champion Layne Beachley (Aus), during Round 1 of the ASP Women's World Tour NAB Beachley Classic, at Sydney's Manly Beach, today.
Fitzgibbons won the Oakley Wildcard Trials on Monday to advance into the main event. Her superior paddling power and deliberate tactics saw her out-class Beachley, to post the highest two-wave heat total of the event, a 15.65 (out of a possible 20.00 points).
"I am just over the moon!" Fitzgibbons said after her win which also included the day's highest individual wave score, an 8.50 (out of 10.00). "I went out there and got those couple of rides I needed, I didn't expect to get that far ahead. I'm just super happy."
Surfing through five rounds of competition during the Oakley Wildcard Trials on Monday, Fitzgibbons went on to reveal her true talent against the world's best during Round 1, advancing seamlessly into Round 3.
"Surfing the trials helped me to familiarise myself with the banks at Manly," Fitzgibbons said. "Even though the conditions were totally different out there today, it was still similar and I was just lucky to get the waves I needed."
Beachley, who finished in second place, was put to the test by Fitzgibbons's exceptional wildcard performance. The 7X ASP World Champion clawed her way back from a potential Round 2 fate, with a 6.10 ride which saw her advance ahead of Claire Bevilacqua (Aus) in the dying minutes of their Round 1 clash.
"I've been surfing out here my whole life," Beachley said. "That's why I am so frustrated right now because I know where to surf and which waves to catch. I just didn't do that today. It was a valuable lesson and I will have to make up for it during the next round."
Beachley and Fitzgibbons are scheduled to meet again in Round 3.
Defending NAB Beachley Classic Champion Stephanie Gilmore (Aus) maintained her wildcard mindset which saw her win this event in 2006. Posting the second highest two-wave heat total of the day a 15.10, Gilmore outshone her fellow Heat 6 competitors Melanie Bartels (Haw) and Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus).
"I'm in a totally different position this year," Gilmore explained. "There are ratings points and world titles that I should be aiming for and not thinking about but I am. I tried to stay on Sally's wavelength today, which was to have fun and keep surfing good."
Losing her ASP ratings lead to Samantha Cornish in Spain, Gilmore is aware of how much is at stake for both herself as well as her fellow top five campaigners at this event.
"If any of the girls in the top five were to get a win here, they could really get away from the pack and that would make things extremely hard going into the last three events," Gilmore said. "I am at World No. 4 which is good and I'm still in with a shot at the World Title".
Current World No. 3 Sofia Mulanovich (Per) produced another signature performance that has seen her climb the ASP ratings ladder this year. Winning her Round 1 heat with excellent 8.00 and 7.00 point rides, the 2004 ASP World Champion defeated Leilani Gryde (Haw) who replaced 'no- show' surfer Rochelle Ballard (Haw) and Megan Abubo (Haw) in Heat 4.
Also advancing in first place were World No. 1 Samantha Cornish (Aus) who posted the first 8.00 ride of the day over Jacqueline Silva (Bra) and Rebecca Woods (Aus); South African Rosy Hodge who captured a surprise Round 1 victory over World No. 2 Silvana Lima (Bra) and Amee Donohoe (Aus) and Jessi Miley-Dyer (Aus), who slipped into top gear to defeat World No. 5 Chelsea Hedges (Aus) and Caroline Sarran (Fra).
All six heats of Round 1 where completed before the competition was called off due to unfavourable winds. Conditions will be reassessed and another call made at 07h30 tomorrow morning.
The NAB Beachley Classic runs from 9- 14 October, 2007 and holds a prize money purse of US$ 100 000 as well as 20% bonus ASP ratings points.
The event is produced by Layne Beachley in collaboration with National Australia Bank and the Association of Surfing Professionals.
NAB Beachley Classic Round 2 Match-ups:
Heat 1: Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS); Megan Abubo (HAW); Caroline Sarran (FRA)
Heat 2: Rebecca Woods (AUS); Amee Donohoue (AUS); Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)
NAB Beachley Classic Round 1 Results
Heat 1: Samantha Cornish (AUS) 12.50; Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 11.45
Rebecca Woods (AUS) 10.75;
Heat 2: Roseanne Hodge (ZAF) 13.30; Silvana Lima (BRA) 12.25; Amee Donohoe (AUS) 11.70
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.65; Layne Beachley (AUS) 11.00; Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 10.15
Heat 4: Sofia Mulanovich (PER)15.00;Leilani Gryde (Haw)8.45; Megan Abubo (HAW)6.75;
Heat 5: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)10.85; Chelsea Hedges (AUS)9.40; Caroline Sarran (FRA)7.50
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.10;Melanie Bartels (HAW)13.10; Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS)6.10