In September 2018, Ocean Grove’s Tarni Pearce and Western Australian Shawnee Turner were selected by Almond Breeze Australia to travel to four of the World Surf League Championship Tour events in France, Hawaii, the Gold Coast and Bells Beach, to capture content of their sponsored athlete Sally Fitzgibbons.
Sally is one of Australia’s best female surfers and has been at the top of her game for many years.
The campaign titled #breezethewaves allowed them to go behind the scenes with one of their surfing idols and see what its really like on tour.
In the lead up to the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, their final stop on this incredible adventure, they had the opportunity to sit down with Sally and ask her about this years tour and Tokyo 2020.
Here’s what she had to say:
The first event of the year is done and dusted, how does it feel to be starting a fresh season on tour?
“It’s so enjoyable! Going through the experience of the first event of the year and with the lead up I had with breaking the shoulder at the end of last season, I guess I had a lot of unknowns and it was cool to ride the adrenaline of that. It was awesome to work with my team and have my Almond Breeze crew on the beach supporting me every time I came in, it was unreal. It gave me that much energy and stoke to be there and it let’s me know that I’m in the right place and heading in the right direction.”
How does the event on the Gold Coast prepare you for Bells Beach?
“Snapper Rocks is a long right hand point break which sets you up pretty well for Bells, it gives you some kilometres in the legs and prepares you for the long rights that Bells Beach provides. However, the event on the Gold Coast was run out at Duranbah this year which is more of a short and sharp beach break. It was a great reminder to expect anything and be prepared for anything. Coming to Bells, you always know what sort of waves to expect and what to prepared for, but whatever comes on the day, I’m ready and pretty stoked to surf anything”
What’s your favourite thing about Bells Beach and what does it mean to you?
“It’s been 18 years of doing the pilgrimage down to Bells Beach. The water has a special feel, it’s cold, you’ve got your wetsuits on, you run down for the early surf and you can’t feel your feet but you see these open ocean lines just wrap around the corner and refracting in. It’s true beauty I think, it’s raw, it’s pure and it reminds me of when I started riding my board at home on the south coast of New South Wales, it’s almost like its cousin so I feel very much at home here at Bells.”
This year is a bit different to previous years as you now have a full support team behind you, can you tell us about your new support crew and how that came about?
“When I broke my shoulder, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to learn new information. I didn’t know what my team would look like but knew it would involve a few key people to help me out with a management plan as to how I was going to get my body fit again. That evolved into a new surf coach and it’s allowed me to really find what works best for me. It feels amazing, it’s like having super powers in your feet! It’s a great feeling to know that you have a support system behind you that are feeding you all the information you need. They have your goals in mind and a vision of where you want to end up. I’m pretty stoked with my team.”
How did it feel when you won your first Bell?
“I just remember riding a wave in and they called out that I had won it and I was waving my arms around, fist pumping the air. I felt like my head was going to explode! There was a bit of unknown as to whether that moment was ever going to happen for me and it did. It was the 50th anniversary year of the Rip Curl Pro and all the previous legends were lining the steps and I just felt like I was floating up the stairs. I sat on the podium until it was dark and blasted Katy Perry’s song Firework all the way back to Jan Juc. It was a pretty cool experience!”
What are your thoughts on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo?
“The Olympics is the big golden egg for everyone on tour now. Instead of thinking about it as being a year and a half away, I’m just already enjoying what it’s brought to surfing in this country and how its bought the Australian surf team closer together. It’s given me so much enjoyment in my craft and learning to work as a team and building a culture around it. The big thing for me at the moment is having the mindset that there’s no bigger heats than others. Paddling out for round 1 at Bells is no different to me than paddling out in Tokyo surfing for Australia, it’s all the same intention. I want to be in Tokyo surfing my country. It’s super exciting and it’s certainly all possible.”