The day belonged to Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18, and the new generation of women's professional surfing. Fitzgibbons, current ASP Women's World Tour member, surfed every heat of her final assault flawless, methodical and mechanical as she swept the field to win the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Estoril Billabong Girls Pro taking the valuable 3000 ratings' points up for grabs.
Fitzgibbons defeated fellow finalist and other rising wunderkid and ASP Top 17 surfer Coco Ho (Oahu, HAW), 17, with both surfers scoring near perfect rides as Bufuriera's beachbreak was delivering clean three to four foot (1 to 1.2 meter) waves. Fitzgibbons came out blazing in the final locking-in four excellent scores before Ho managed to answer back with a near perfect 9.80 point wave. Meanwhile, Fitzgibbons was quick to respond and net a 9.85 pointer and take the win.
“It's great to be back on the podium and definitely it has been some time between drinks," Fitzgibbons said. "I surfed a lot of heats before the final and paddled out quite relaxed and sat wide. I saw the tide starting to drain out and thought there were two peaks. I was lucky when the first one came wide and I got it.”
Fitzgibbons, who is a rookie on this year's ASP Women's World Tour, leaves Portugal with a solid back-up result in case she ends up needing to requalify through the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) at the end of this year. So far, Fitzgibbons remains well in position to fulfill expectations from the international surfing scene which considers the young woman a future ASP World title contender.
Coco Ho, who secured another great result by finishing runner-up in the ASP WQS 6-Star event, had defeated fellow Hawaiian and friend Carissa Moore (Oahu, HAW) in the Semifinals whilst Fitzgibbons was taking the most out of her encounter with experienced and former ASP Women's World Tour Rookie of the Year Jessi Miley-Dyer (New South Wales, AUS).
“It was great to surf with my friend Sally (Fitzgibbons) in the final," Ho said. "We had really fun waves, we were talking and having a good time. Sally started with three great waves and it took me a while to get a good one. Then I got my 9.80 pointer but Sally came straight back and bettered it with a 9.85 wave.”
The Estoril Billabong Girls Pro was not only the stage of an international gathering but alos crowned this year's ASP Women's European Champion, the best European performer taking the prestigious crown for 2009. It was Lee-Ann Curren (Anglet, FRA) who ended with the highest result in the ASP WQS 6-Star event, taking her second regional crown after a year break to succeed to Justine Dupont (Lacanau, FRA).
Curren, 19, who has targeted a qualification for next year's ASP Women's World Tour for her main goal this season, placed equal 13th at Estoril and was not able to go any further than Round 3, still enough to grab the European title.
“It feels great to be the ASP Women's European Champion again after a year hiatus," Curren said. "I had the crown two years ago and lost it last year to Justine Dupont so it is a good confidence boost as I am starting to focus on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) and trying to qualify for the ASP Women's World Tour”.
Check out all photos, news and results at ASP Europe.
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 18.60 pts Def. Coco Ho (HAW) 16.90 pts
Heat 1: Coco Ho (HAW) 18.0 pts Def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.00 pts
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons 16.50 pts (AUS) Def. Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 10.20 pts
Heat 1: Coco Ho (HAW) 12.75 def Nikita Robb (ZAF) 5.25
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.70 def Jaqueline Silva (BRA) 10.65
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 10.75 def Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 9.75
Heat 4: Jessi Miley-Dyer 12.90 (AUS) def Rebecca Woods (AUS) 12.30