Sally Fitzgibbons Takes The World Tour Lead After Being Victorious In Brasil

Sally Fitzgibbons vs. Carissa Moore

SAQUAREMA, Rio de Janeiro/Brasil (Sunday, June 23, 20199) - Today Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) won the Oi Rio Pro, Stop No. 5 on the 2019 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). The beach came alive throughout the Oi Rio Pro with thousands of fans each day, including today’s Final at Barrinha in four-to-six foot (1.2 - 1.8 meter) waves. Fitzgibbons and Toledo surfed a full day from the Quarterfinals to the Final, resulting in their third CT victories in Brasil.

 

 

PHOTO: © WSL / Poullenot SOCIAL : @wsl @damien_poullenot

Fitzgibbons’ win today is her first CT victory since 2017 and her third in Brasil (2012, 2014, 2019). This season the Australian superstar has secured consistent results with four Final Series appearances, including two Finals. Fitzgibbon’s win vaults her to No. 1 in the world, surpassing Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Carissa Moore (HAW) on the Jeep Leaderboard. 

“It’s definitely one of those feelings where you feel so alive,” said Fitzgibbons. “The whole process of running down through the crowd cheering and paddling out is pretty sick when it all comes together. After all these years it’s still special and to be in the Final with a friend like Carissa (Moore) is pretty amazing. It could’ve gone either way and it just went my way today, it was unbelievable, this is insane. I knew I needed something special at the end when that set wave came through. When I paddled in, I knew there was some opportunity and I just gave it everything. I just wanted to commit and everything just came together.”
 

PHOTO: © WSL / Poullenot SOCIAL : @wsl @damien_poullenot

En route to her 11th CT win, Fitzgibbons eliminated Moore in the Final, good friend Keely Andrew (AUS) in the Semifinals and Lakey Peterson (USA) in the Quarterfinals. The CT veteran has come runner-up to the World Title three times, and this could be a breakthrough year after her success leading up to the season’s halfway mark. 

PHOTO: © WSL / Diz SOCIAL : @wsl @thiagodiz

Carissa Moore put up some of the strongest performances at the Oi Rio Pro but missed her shot at the event win by just 2.07 points. Fitzgibbons closed the door of the Final with an excellent 8.67 (out of a possible 10), leaving Moore searching for the requirement in the final five minutes. Carissa Moore hasn't lost yet before the Quarterfinals this year but still continues the quest for a win in 2019. The three-time WSL Champion moves ahead one place to World No. 2, also advancing past Stephanie Gilmore, who drops to No. 3.  

“It’s been a really positive year and I’m really happy to make the Finals,” said Moore. “It’s a keeper event for me, but of course, it would’ve been great to win. I’m happy for Sally Fitzgibbons and I’m feeling good overall. Like I mentioned after my first round, I would’ve been happy just making it to the Semis, so second place is great. Saquarema has treated me really well, the waves have been fun but challenging and the crowd has been great, so it’s been really good energy for sure.” 

Gilmore Exits in 3rd Place, Slips to World No. 3

 

10 World Titles were present in the second Semifinal matchup with seven-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore against three-time Champion Carissa Moore. As the defending event winner and World No. 1, Gilmore had all the momentum on her side heading into this event. The two exchanged incredible rides, starting with Moore’s 7.50, but quickly followed by Gilmore’s near-perfect 9.00. The lead went back-and-forth with Carissa Moore’s second 7-point ride and then came down to the buzzer when Stephanie Gilmore had one final opportunity needing a 6.30 to advance. The Australian put down two turns, but her 5.83 was not enough. Stephanie Gilmore earned a third-place result in Brasil and now moves into the next stop on the WSL CT, where she is again the defending event winner. Stephanie Gilmore will focus on repeating last year’s success to stay on top of the world rankings.

PHOTO: © WSL / Diz SOCIAL : @wsl @thiagodiz

Lima, and Weston-Webb Knocked Out in Quarterfinals

 

The only Brasilian women left in the draw, Silvana Lima (BRA) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) lost to Andrew and Moore, respectively, in the Quarterfinals. Lima’s low-scoring heat saw her miss the mark by only 0.78. Silvana Lima is now back to full-time competition after returning from a knee injury last season and needs to get some strong points on the board to climb back up the rankings. 

“I’m kind of bummed because I could have easily won that heat,” said Lima. “All I needed was a three to advance, but I ended up falling when the backwash hit the lip. But when it’s not your day, stuff like that happens. I’m still grateful for a good result and now I’m looking forward to J-Bay which is a wave I like a lot.”
 
Silvana Lima also commented on her full recovery from injury: “I feel great, confident and I feel like I’ve never surfed so well after all the preparation and training during my recovery and all the support I’ve gotten. Even though I’m the veteran on Tour and I’m 34-years old, it feels like I gathered all this energy from those seven months away from the Tour and I feel like a 16-year old grommet.”

Weston-Webb exits in Equal 5th place alongside Lima. The 23-year-old has had three appearances in the Final Series this year (5th in Gold Coast, 2nd in Margaret River, 5th in Rio) and moves up two spots to seventh after her result today. 

“I felt like I had some moments of brilliance and me and my support crew thought that I won the heat," said Weston-Webb. "You know, coming here everyone thought that we’d be surfing the left at Itaúna and I felt like we had no reason to be surfing here today. I think it’s necessary to surf lefts on the Tour. Of course, yesterday morning it was pumping at Barrinha, but we only arrived in the afternoon when it wasn’t that great. And despite that, we still came back today. I really wanted to surf Itaúna, but it wasn’t my call. I love the fact that we surf world-class waves on the Tour, but I don’t think the WSL is being fair to the goofies and we need more high-performance lefts on Tour like Cloudbreak, Uluwatu, or Macaronis.” 

PHOTO: © WSL / Diz SOCIAL : @wsl @thiagodiz

2018 event runner-up Peterson fell to Fitzgibbons in the opening Quarterfinal. Peterson failed to find or complete any rides under the Australian’s 8.00 and 6.17. The American now sits in 5th place on the Jeep Leaderboard heading into to J-Bay, where she is the event runner-up. Fellow American Courtney Conlogue also lost in the Quarterfinals, her elimination was by Gilmore in a rematch of their battle in Bali. Conlogue comes up to World No. 4.