Fitzgibbons won the heat comfortably ahead of Dimity Stoyle (Aus/Sunshine Coast) who advanced in 2nd place while Maud Le Car and Lee-Ann Curren from France were both eliminated.
Morning conditions were ideal with 1.5m (4 feet plus) swells and good clean waves at the iconic Burleigh Heads Point Break on the Gold Coast in front of a large crowd of fans.
“It’s incredible to see so many people here to watch the event and to have a Six-Star rated event for the women’s at Burleigh is fantastic for all of us” said 22 year old Fitzgibbons.
“I feel good about starting the season, it’s always a little tense before that first heat but I’m fit and ready for a big year and I’m using the Breaka to fine tune myself and my surfboards – the field is very strong here, there’s so many young girls challenging the established girls and this is a good opportunity to see them surf and surf against them.”
In round three Fitzgibbons will face highly rated Hawaiian Coco Ho, French surfer Alize Arnaud and South Africa’s Sarah Baum in her four surfer heat where 1st and 2nd advance.
New Zealand’s Sarah Mason was the opening morning’s standout performer with a high scoring two wave heat tally of 17.57 (out of a possible 20) defeating Coco Ho who advanced in 2nd place.
“I love surfing Burleigh Heads and today is especially good out there with some powerful waves coming through – it gives you a lot of options to throw some strong turns, especially on your backhand and it’s a great venue to compete in.
“My season is all about re-qualifying for the elite Women’s World Championship Tour and I’m taking it heat-by-heat.Today was a good start to the season for me but it’s early in the event and I need to keep advancing through these heats,” said a clearly focused Mason after her heat win.
Sunshine Coast surfer Naomi Stevic was impressive today, winning her opening round heat and then advancing through a tough round two heat where she placed second behind French surfer Alize Arnaud. In third place in this heat was highly rated Hawaiian Alana Blanchard who was the highest seed eliminated from the event today.
“I’m definitely aiming to do well in the major star events this year ” said Stevic.
“I love surfing Burleigh and today was the perfect start to my season so I’m feeling good right now but there’s a long way to go in this contest before you can actually feel like you have achieved a good start to the season.”
Tyler Wright (AUST/NSW/Lennox Head) is the event number two seed and dominated late in the day when she posted the days highest single wave score of a 9.83 along with the days highest heat tally of 17.70 in her win defeating her older sister Kirby who also advanced in second place.
“I felt comfortable out there and it’s great to get a rash vest back on – I haven’t competed for 6 months so it’s really good to get back into the water competing” said Wright.
“Surfing Burleigh is a perfect location to start the season and great preparation for Snapper Rocks in a month – surfing with my sister in the heat was fun and it was good to see us both advance.”
Other surfers to impress today were Hawaii’s Malia Manuel, Courtney Conlogue (USA/Cal) and Australia’s Nikki Van Dijk who all posted scores well into the excellent range to advance to round 3.
The opening two heats of the Breaka Burleigh Pro Men’s division were run late in the day and Australian surfers Quinn Bruce and Harrison Mann took early round wins.
Good waves are expected at Burleigh Heads right through the coming week, thanks largely to an abating swell from the recent storm swell. Tomorrow’s action is expected to include Women’s round three and Men’s round one, beginning at 8:00am in the morning.
Results: Breaka Burleigh Pro Women’s 6-Star
Round of 48
Heat 1: Sarah Mason (Nzl) 17.57, Coco Ho (Haw) 15.00, Canelle Ballard (Fra) 10.34, Georgia Fish (Aus) 9.40
Heat 2: Paige Hareb (Nzl) 14.50, Sarah Baum (Zaf), Nao Omura (Jpn) 8.10, Bruna Schmitz (Bra) 7.34
Heat 3: Alize Arnaud (Fra) 15.93, Naomi Stevic (Aus) 14.60, Alana Blanchard (Haw) 13.54, Laura Poncini (Aus) 8.70
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (Aus) 13.00, Dimity Stoyle (Aus) 12.63, Maud Le Car (Fra) 9.00, Lee-Ann Curren (Fra) 8.33
Heat 5: Malia Manuel (Haw) 16.16, Alessa Quizon (Haw) 14.10, Omella Pellizzari (Arg) 8.10, Frankie Harrer (USA) 3.33
Heat 6: Nikki Van Dijk (Aus) 15.83, Bianca Buitendag (Zaf) 10.00, Freya Prumm (Aus) 5.07, Ainara Aymat (Euk) 4.66
Heat 7: Pauline Ado (Fra) 9.27, Felicity Palmeteer (Aus) 9.17, Ellie-Jean Coffey (Aus) 8.00, Miho Ihara (Jpn) 4.84
Heat 8: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.33, Erica Hosseini (USA) 9.60, Laura Macaulay (Aus) 9.00, Anali Gomez (Per) 5.07
Heat 9: Tyler Wright (Aus) 17.70, Kirby Wright (Aus) 10.16, Leila Hurst (Haw) 6.60, Skye Burgess (Aus) 6.07
Heat 10: Philippa Anderson (Aus) 16.67, Quincy Davis (USA) 13.94, Rebecca Woods (Aus) 8.84, Sophie Callister (Aus) 2.66
Heat 11: Rosanne Hodge (Zaf) 15.34, Sage Erickson (12.40) 12.40, Eden Putland (Aus) 9.53, Nage Melamed (Haw) 7.67
Heat 12: Laura Enever (Aus) 9.70, Brittani Nicholl (Aus) 9.10, Mikaela Greene (Aus) 6.37, Joanne Defay (Fra) 2.84
Round of 60
Heat 1: Sarah Mason (NZ) 12.66, Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 9.33, Bethany Hamilton (Haw) 7:00, Takechi Minami (Jpn) 3.27
Heat 2: Naomi Stevic (Aus) 11.67, Lee-Ann Curren (Fra) 10.93, Codie Klein (Aus) 9.00, Faye Zoetmulder (Zaf) 3.56
Heat 3: Frankie Harrer (USA) 11.76, Ainara Aymat (Euk) 7.73, Dominic Barona (Ecu) 7.53, Carina Duarte (Por) 7.34
Heat 4: Miho Ihara (Jpn) 6.07, EricaHosseini (USA) 6.00, Anne Cecile Le Talle (Fra) 5.50, Jess Grimwood (Aus) 3 67
Heat 5: Skye Burgess (Aus) 11.33, Quincy Davis (USA) 10.77, Keely Andrew (Aus), Alisha Gonsalves (USA) 6.10
Heat 6: Eden Putland (Aus) 16.17, Mikaela Greene (Aus) 13.93, Bronte Macaulay (Aus) 12 67, Jordan Hundley (USA) 7.34
Results Breaka Burleigh Pro Men’s 4-Star
Round of 160
Heat 1: Quinn Bruce (Aus) 10.93, Jake Scott (Aus) 9.57, Gabriel Farias (Bra) 7.40, Kaito Takamatsu (Jpn) 5.97
Heat 2: Harrison Mann (Aus) 9.83, Luke Hynd (Aus) 8.10, Dave Reardon-Smith (Aus) 5.60, Samba Mann (Aus) 3.67
The Breaka Burleigh Pro is proudly supported by Breaka Flavoured Milk, Channel 7, Southern Cross Austereo (B105 & Sea FM), Events Queensland, Surfing Queensland, ASP Australasia, Scoot Airlines, Ooh!, Surfing Life Magazine, GCCC, XXXX Summer Bright Lager, Rapid Media, 5 and a half Sunglasses, JR Surfboards and the Maddison Estate Surf Precinct.ASP World Tour - The Association of Surfing Professionals