Australian Sally Fitzgibbons is as hungry as ever to snare a maiden world surf title, and she’s confident she’s on the right track.
Fitzgibbons has endured a series of near misses since joining the elite tour in 2009.
She finished second in the world title race in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and third in 2013, 2015, and 2017.
Last year, Fitzgibbons led the title race heading into the final event, only to fall to third overall after finishing 13th in the Maui Women’s Pro in Hawaii – her equal worst result of the year.
The 27-year-old started this year with a third-placed finish on the Gold Coast, before following that up with a 13th-placing at Bells Beach.
Fitzgibbons will be aiming to turn her fortunes around at the Margaret River Pro, starting on Wednesday.
She has plenty of fond memories of the WA event after winning it for the first time last year.
Fitzgibbons would love to add another Margaret River Pro crown to her trophy cabinet.
But it is the world title that she is craving the most.
“That is my ultimate goal – to become the world champ,” Fitzgibbons said.
“But I’ve got to keep evolving and keep learning.
“I feel like I’m a completely different surfer and stronger surfer than 10 years ago when I qualified. I know I’m on the right track.
“Each year I gain more knowledge and better surfing skills.
“Reflecting on last season, it was one of my most successful seasons to date.
“I just missed out at the end there on the big prize, but I learned from it. It didn’t put a dent in my motivation to be here.”
Australia’s six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore leads the world rankings following her win at Bells Beach.
Fitzgibbons said her win at last year’s Margaret River Pro was a special moment.
“Every year you come here as a ‘grom’, you imagine getting your name on those steps here at Margs,” she said.
“To join the honour roll there has been cool.”
Australian Associated Press