Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has claimed the 2017 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s title, defeating reigning champion and fellow Aussie Tyler Wright in the final held at Main Break on Saturday afternoon.
Competition was delayed for much of the week in anticipation of a new swell building on Saturday morning, and the crowds at Surfers Point showed how keen fans were to see some surfing action as the women’s seminfinals led into the hotly contested all-Australian final.
Fitzgibbons overcame six time WSL champion Stephanie Gilmore in the her semi final, who despite her 4th placing in Margaret River, remains atop the Jeep Leaderboard.
Wright faced the dangerous Sage Erickson (USA) in her semi, with Wright’s final score of 16.00 simply too good for the determined Erickson to match, settling for a respectable 12.17 to finish 3rd in the competition.
Wright looked a force to be reckoned with, a stellar run through the heats and semifinals of this year’s Pro as well as posting some of the event’s highest heat totals promised a powerful final match up with her fellow NSW South-Coaster.
Fitzgibbons stamped her authority on the final early, notching up a 7.83 for her opening ride.
Wright replied with a number of strong attempts but was simply outsurfed by Fitzgibbons, who’s two wave total of 14.90 bested Wright’s 12.53.
The million-dollar Fitzgibbons smile was on show as she was chaired off the beach towards the winner’s podium in front of a packed Surfers Point crowd.
“I’m so over the moon to be holding this trophy,” Fitzgibbons said.
“When I heard my name being called out as the champion, I really felt a sense of belonging and calm.
“It’s been an amazing couple of weeks here in the West and to finish it off with a win is the best feeling.”
Fitzgibbons and Wright both sang the praises of the Margaret River region, it’s surf and the hospitality shown to the surfers year after year.
“I love coming to Margaret River,” Fitzgibbons said, after collecting her first ever Margaret River Pro trophy.
“I feel like it’s a place that I am super comfortable and familiar with, so it’s a special event win for me.”
Both surfers hail from the small coastal town of Gerroa, and their shared history featured heavily in both speeches.
“I am stoked for Sally [Fitzgibbons] to come away with the win,” Wright said.
“I’ve known Sally since I was 9-years-old, we live in the same town now, and we are both from the South Coast. I am stoked that both of us were in the Final.”
Fitzgibbons is now tied in World No.1 position on the Jeep Leaderboard alongside Gilmore, while Wright’s second placing sees her move to No.3.
The men’s finals competition is set to restart on Sunday morning, with officials convening at around 6.30am to make a call.