Action continued today at the fifth stop on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT), the Fiji Women’s Pro, with a day of high drama and high scores. The world’s best female surfers posted four nine-point rides as competition ran through Rounds 2 and 3 in solid surf at Cloudbreak.
Rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) was the standout of the day, claiming both the highest heat total and single-wave score, while defending event winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) suffered a perforated eardrum in the heavy conditions.
Weston-Webb (HAW) had an impressive run of form, looking confident and at ease on her forehand in the sizable surf. She started with a convincing victory over Sage Erickson (USA) in Round 2, pulling into the wave of the day for a long, deep tube and earning a near-perfect 9.73 (out of a possible 10). The young Hawaiian went on to face Jeep Leaderboard No. 1 and two-time World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) and Coco Ho (HAW) in Round 3 where another nine-point ride saw her take the top spot and a place in the Quarterfinals, sending her opponents to Round 4.
“I really love this wave, it’s pretty magical to be out here with just two other girls,” Weston-Webb said. “I think the whole week I was kind of frustrated because it’s really hard to surf it with lots of people out so I’m really appreciating these moments. I’m really stoked to beat Carissa (Moore). She’s one of the toughest to beat right now so I’m really happy I did. Cloudbreak is a wave where you really have to commit but I don’t have much fear out here for reason!”
Fitzgibbons (AUS) managed to avoid an early exit after winning through her Round 2 heat against wildcard Mahina Maeda (HAW) despite suffering a perforated eardrum after pulling into a barrel and being sucked over the falls. Fitzgibbons was able to continue competing and went on to face Lakey Peterson (USA) and Laura Enever (AUS) in Round 3. Both Australians posted impressive nine-point rides in the closing minutes of the heat but it was Fitzgibbons who came out on top, earning a Quarterfinal berth and sending her opponents to Round 4.
“It was a tough one today,” said Fitzgibbons. “That first heat I ruptured my left eardrum and everything started swaying but I just wanted to get back up and give it another go. I just love surfing in Fiji and I didn’t want it to end that way or that soon. I have to thank all the medical crew for really helping me out.”
World No. 2 Courtney Conlogue (USA) also earned her place in the Quarterfinals after defeating Johanne Defay (FRA) and Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) with a solid 15.60 heat total. Fresh from back-to-back wins in Margaret River and Rio, Conlogue is looking for another strong result in Fiji to keep herself in contention for this year’s world title. Defay previously stole a win from Dimity Stoyle (AUS) in Round 2 with an 8.27, eliminating the Australian in equal 13th.
“I’m so happy to be out here competing,” said Conlogue. “It’s tricky today but the forecast looks amazing. I’m just sticking to my game plan and I’m sure Carissa (Moore) is sticking to hers. She’s going to be hard to beat in Round 4 and I’m sure we’ll see her in the quarters. I’m just focusing on myself because if you worry about other people it starts to hinder your performance.”
Sitting in equal 13th place on the Jeep Leaderboard, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) secured a well needed heat win in Round 2, her first since the Gold Coast, over Brazilian Silvana Lima (BRA). Despite being in second place through most of the bout the Australian took victory with back-to-back scores in the final minutes. Lima leaves in 13th place, her worst result of the season. Van Dijk went on to secure her place in the Quarterfinals for the first time this season with a win over Malia Manuel (HAW) and world no. 3 Tyler Wright (AUS), who will both surf again in Round 4. Manuel previously dispatched replacement surfer Keely Andrew (AUS) in elimination Round 2.
“I’m so excited,” said Van Dijk. “It was a little tricky in that heat but I’ll take a Quarterfinal and I’m so happy. I’m looking forward to what’s to come because I know there’s some really good waves on the way. I know how it feels to get hurt like Sally (Fitzgibbons) and it was really good to watch her getting back out there. I’m trying to think about that and just having a great time.”
Fiji Women’s Pro Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 12.70 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.66
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 16.34 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 13.66
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.06 def. Mahina Maeda (HAW) 8.57
Heat 4: Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.87 def. Keely Andrew (AUS) 8.27
Heat 5: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 18.23 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 11.17
Heat 6: Johanne Defay (FRA) 15.10 def. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 14.17
Fiji Women’s Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 17.10, Laura Enever (AUS) 14.77, Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.07
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 17.67, Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.87, Coco Ho (HAW) 13.44
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.60, Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.16, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 6.33
Heat 4: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 11.27, Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.50, Tyler Wright (AUS) 8.67
Fiji Women’s Pro Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Laura Enever (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)
Heat 3: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
Heat 4: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)