The inaugural ASP 6-Star Australian Open of Surfing concluded at Manly Beach on Sunday, February 19, with a tight battle between Red Bull teammates Sally Fitzgibbons and Sofia Mulanovich in the final.
Ultimately, Fitzgibbons, the Australian surfer who finished runner-up for the 2011 ASP Women’s World Title, triumphed over Mulanovich, the 2004 ASP Women’s World Champion from Peru. Fitzgibbons earned four of the top ten wave scores and two of the top three heat totals throughout the event, despite a recent wrist injury.
"It's unbelievable!" Fitzgibbons said of her victory. "I was just focusing on working through my boards and going through some heats and before I know it I'm in the final. Sofia is such a tough competitor; I knew she'd be able to get the score needed, so it was a nervous wait at the end there.”
“To win in front of this crowd, with so much support, feels amazing!” she continued. “Then to have won the U.S. Open and the first-ever Australian Open back-to-back is a special achievement."
Florida’s Evan Geiselman (pictured above) battled all the way to the final for the men, meeting up with Australian Matt Banting in a great match-up. Geiselman had been turning heads throughout the event with his aerial game, but fell just short of Banting to finish runner-up, his best showing at an ASP 6-Star event.
"It was a good match-up, it was really fun surfing against Matt," Gieselman said. "I really want to congratulate him -- he surfed really well and found a couple of good rights that let him do a couple of airs. I would have loved to have won, but second is a great result. I'm doing the whole ASP Star Series this year and I'm looking to qualify for the ASP World Title Series at the end of the year, so this is a great start for me."
Barros Blazes Beach Bowl
The Australian Open also hosted a Beach Bowl competition, with skaters from around the world dropping in on their chance at the title. Sixteen-year-old Brazilian Pedro Barros annihilated the competition, taking the win over stars like Bucky Lasek and Bob Burnquist.
His signature back-to-back 540s, along with a non-stop barrage of tricks and style, helped push him to the top and solidify his reputation as one of the best bowl skaters around.
“I think every moment I was trying to step it up, just go bigger, higher, better, faster,” Barros commented. “It was sick, everyone was skating amazing, everyone was ripping it up.”