NEWCASTLE, NSW/Australia (Saturday, March 17, 2012) – Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) has won the ASP 6-Star Hunter Ports Women's Classic over Malia Manuel (HAW) in 2 foot (1 meter) surf at Merewether beach, Newcastle today. The Final was a fairly one-sided affair with Fitzgibbons dominating the wave selection and execution, this is her 2nd ASP 6-Star win in a row after taking out the Australian Open in Manly in February.
Fitzgibbons, runner-up to the 2011 ASP Women's World Title has been a standout performer at Surfest all week, posting 4 of the top 10 single waves scores of the Hunter Ports Women's Classic. In today's Final Fitzgibbons was clinical in her attack, executing fins free turns, perfectly timed snaps and smooth carves.
"Today was a bit of a struggle to find the good ones," Fitzgibbons said. "I just had to pick the eyes out of it to find the best waves. The competitive rhythm is back and it's all feeling good. The first few events this year have gone really well for me. I finished 3rd on the Gold Coast which is good, but also tough not to make the Final. There are things I've learned and I'll use them at Bells. As a 13-year-old we had a Pro Junior event here at Merewether and I was just a little grommet and I took it out, so Newcastle is a special place for me."
Manuel started the day on a high by eliminating the reigning ASP Women's World Champion, Carissa Moore (HAW) in the Quarterfinals. In the Final however she was unable to find the open faced waves that offered up sections to execute the impressive moves she performed earlier in the day.
"I'm really happy to make the Final and rack up some points," Manuel said. "I'd really like to stay in the top five. I'm really happy right now. I wish I could have caught a couple more waves, but either way 1st or 2nd is great for me. I'm enjoying Australia and looking forward to the rest of my time here."
Sage Erickson (USA), 2012 elite ASP Women's World Championship Tour rookie finished equal third place after bowing out in her Semifinal against Manuel. Erickson eliminated Paige Hareb (NZL) earlier in the day in the Quarterfinals but couldn't match Manuel's smooth style in today's shifty conditions.
"The conditions are much more tricky with the southerly winds," Erickson said. "There were some good little lefts, but I couldn't find a good back-up score. Malia (Manuel) got those two good waves and surfed really consistent in that heat."
The Men's Burton Toyota Pro will finish tomorrow with competition expected to start at 7:30am. Newcastle's Surfest will run from 8 – 18 March 2012. More info www.surfest.com
HUNTER PORTS WOMEN'S CLASSIC FINAL RESULT:
1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.70
2: Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.00
HUNTER PORTS WOMEN'S CLASSIC SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.20 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 12.17
SF 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.04 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.00
HUNTER PORTS WOMEN'S CLASSIC QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Sage Erickson (USA) 14.93, def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.93
QF 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) 11.66 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.17
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.34 def. Alizee Arnaud (FRA) 10.37
QF 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.84 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 10.50
About the 2012 Surfest Newcastle Australia
The 2012 Surfest Newcastle Australia features the Burton Toyota Pro (Men's ASP 6-Star) and the Hunter Ports Women's Classic (Women's ASP 6-Star), along with eight supporting events. The event is made possible with the support of Burton Toyota, the Hunter Sports Group and the NSW Government through Destination NSW. Surfest Newcastle Australia is conducted over 12 days from March 7-18 at Merewether beach, a recognised Australian National Surfing Reserve. Merewether is home to festival patron and Australia's most accomplished men's world professional surfing champion, four-time ASP World Champion Mark Richards (1979-82) who presents the winner a trophy in his likeness. 2012 marks the festival's 27th year and with over 800 national and international competitors, Surfest Newcastle Australia is the largest festival of surfing in the southern hemisphere. Get up-to-the minute updates, photos and interviews, as well as the program of events at surfest.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.