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Gabriel Medina and Sally Fitzgibbons Win the Rottnest Rip Curl Search

25 May 2021

Sally Fitzgibbons and Gabriel Medina have won the Rip Curl Rottnest Search after the biggest day of surf during the competition window. Fitzgibbons and Medina are the first Championship Tour surfers to win an event at Strickland Bay, on the island of Wadjemup.

With this win, Fitzgibbons moves into second place in the rankings, behind Yellow Jersey holder Carissa Moore, who was eliminated by Johanne Defay in the Semifinal. After a first and three third-place finishes in Australia, Moore still has a very healthy lead, and will be the surfer to beat going into the next event.

This is a great result for Fitzgibbons, who eventually faced Defay in the Final. She's a perennial World Title contender whose best end-of-season result is a second place, back in 2012. With a full package of turns and progressive maneuvers she could be a serious threat at Trestles for the inaugural Rip Curl WSL Finals.

"I'm just exhausted. I gave it everything," - Fitzgibbons said after winning.

"That's what surfing is all about, just playing the game and enjoying whatever happens in the heat. It feels so good to be back in that winners' circle.

"I've set those goals all year and am quietly going about them in my own manner. I just believe it's possible if I do everything in my power, some days like this everything just aligns.”

She made an early start and had Defay comboed for much of the heat. This was a pattern of Fitzgibbons throughout the event -- leaving her competitors chasing scores in a tricky, at times fickle lineup.

Medina With A Comfortable Lead Heading Into Surf Ranch

Meanwhile, Medina has solidified his hold of the Number One position, with around 8000 points separating him and World no.2 Italo Ferreira. But this is still a very solid result for the runner-up Morgan Cibilic, who is now no.5 in the world going into the Surf Ranch event. This is an impressive ranking for a surfer in their Rookie year, and comes after an Australian leg in which Cibilic eliminated John John Florence twice, made two Semifinals and a Final.

To put this result into perspective, if Cibilic was no.5 at the end of the year, he'd get a chance to surf for a World Title at Trestles.

Medina has two wins from this Australian leg now, after winning the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona. He also placed second in the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona, making him the form surfer on the Men's Tour.

This leg was a renaissance for Medina, the first year of his career that he traveled without his stepfather and long-time coach Charlie. After winning the event he heaped praise on his new coach Andy King, whose tenure along with Media's marriage to his wife Yasmin Brunet has coincided with a different, more relaxed demeanour, on land anyway, from one of the fiercest competitors the sport has ever seen.

"That was amazing, I had so much fun at this event. It has been my best year so far," he said. "I mean I had some hard heats, Connor and Italo, all these guys, it feels good to be surfing the way I like. I feel comfortable out there and just enjoy every moment. I am blessed to have these waves on tour, travel with my wife, and all these people around me. I want to enjoy this moment."

Tour Headed To The Surf Ranch

After four events in Australia the Tour will now head to the Californian desert for the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro. This will put an interesting spin on the jostling for Final Five positions, with the wave pool requiring very specific boards as well as favoring progressive surfing. This event also comes at a time in the season when some athletes are desperate for a good result to ensure they remain on Tour next year.

 

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