CÔTE DES BASQUES, Biarritz – France (Friday, July 13, 2012) ? Beautiful conditions greeted competitors this morning in Biarritz and the Roxy Pro finally started with the opening heat of the day entering the water at 7:30am. Sunny and warm weather along with 3-5Ft clean waves were on offer throughout the day and allowed the girls to showcase fabulous surfing in front of the growing Biarritz crowds.
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 21, had a slow start to her day, losing in Round 1 and had to surf in the second round where she blew up in front of an excited massive public who came to support her opponent Johanne Defay (FRA). Fitzgibbons scored the highest heat total of the day, an excellent 18.15 out of 20 earned by aggressively surfing two long righthanders all the way to the beach.
“First round is tough, specially with the small amount of waves I just didn’t have that rythmn and I really feel like I got back into the groove in that second one..” Fitzgibbons stated. “I’m definitely feeling confident in my surfing and found the right waves. I think beachbreaks here in France just have a mind of their own and I was just trying to link up with that and predict its next move you know ‘Côte des Basques’ sort of changes every five minutes. I’m loving the challenge of trying to find those fun little waves !”
Fitzgibbons, currently second in the World Title race, needs a strong result in France to stay in contention for the World Title, and later confirmed her form in Round 3 when she won and qualified for the quarter-finals sending Coco Ho (HAW) and Lakey Peterson (HAW) in the Round 4.
“It was good to get Round 2 and 3 sort of under the belt,” Fitzgibbons commented. “I really got to loosen up in those heats and got some good and long running waves. It’s good to be moving through and I feel like I’m building my surfing throughout the event.”
Carissa Moore (HAW) 19, also impressed this morning in her first heat, securing the second highest heat total of 17.30 out of 20 for a succession of aggressive turns both on her forehand and backhand.
“It just feels really good to get wet and put a jersey on after a month break from Brazil, I’m really stoked to be here and I’m having a lot of fun”, Moore said. “The waves were getting a little better throughout the morning and they’re holding up a little more to allow more turns, it was really fun !”
Defending World Champion, Moore who placed third last year in Biarritz, will need an even better result this time around to try and send the World Title race to the last event of the season in California. After winning in the third round as well, Moore will move straight into the quarter-finals when competition resumes tomorrow.
Tyler Wright (AUS) 18, was another stand-out performer this afternoon as the swell got bigger and the waves allowed her to display power turns. The young Australian netted the second single highest scoring ride of the event so far, a near perfect 9.10 with a combination of two radical manoeuvers to qualify for the quarters.
“I feel pretty good, it was really tricky this morning and that was good to get through that first round.” Wright said. “I’m super stoked because I don’t usually surf small waves like that, but it’s picked up now and it’s a little more suited to me so I’m enjoying it !”
Tyler Wright, being part of the new generation of progressive up-and-comers, brought excitement to the Round 3 when she tried a massive aerial but fell off just short of landing it. Coming from a strong family of surfers and with a big brother well known for his aerial skills, there’s no doubt Tyler will lead the path for the girls to follow.
“I took off on that wave and I thought it was going to be a two turns kind of wave, but it did something funky in the middle and I thought like, well I might as well try something big ! It didn’t pay off this time, I didn’t land it but well..”
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 24, showed consistence in both her heats today and will be looking for a strong finish tomorrow. Gilmore found the best opportunities in difficult conditions early this morning in small waves and later today in wind affected seas.
“There were some moments of brilliance out there earlier when the tide was right, the sun was out and the wind was holding off” Gilmore said. “Sally’s (Fitzgibbons) heat in particular looked so fun, she just had nice little perfect waves and yeah I was a little bit too early and a little bit too late but I made it through so I’m happy.”
Gilmore, only three heats away from potentially claiming back her World Champion crown from Carissa Moore, has surfed two heats but had to wait five consecutive hours in between and was looking forward to a good rest before the final day of competition tomorrow.
“It was a long day of sitting around and waiting and I’m pretty sunburnt I think so I’m just going to go home and re-energize to focus on tomorrow; It’s just going to get harder and harder from here on in. The next heat is all I have on my mind right now.”
Joanne Defay (FRA) 18, who won the trials that earned her a wildcard spot in the Roxy Pro Biarritz, was eliminated in the second round opposing her to Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons. Europe’s current Junior Champion learned a lot from this event and will go back to the Junior and Star tour amped to improve her surfing and try to qualify for the elite level.
“I’ve learned a lot at this event,” Defay stated. “I now understand a little better that you’ve really got to step up and give your everything on each wave ! It may be a good idea to surf safely a couple waves to have your score basis but then you got to push really hard all your turns and take a maximum of risks. I think on my best days I’m not too far from the level required on the World Tour but I know I have to be a lot more consistent. I had a 7.25 on my last wave and that was encouraging !”
The other two French competitors in the names of Pauline Ado and Justine Dupont both lost in the second round today, and unfortunately won’t be able to requalify through the World Championship Tour remaining event this season. Ado and Dupont will now be on the hunt for ranking points on the Star Tour before the end of the season.