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Star women shine at Surfest

ON POINT: Stephanie Gilmore powers into round five of the Surfest Women’s Classic on Thursday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll MEREWETHER’S Philippa Anderson, top seed Sally Fitzgibbons and six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore all progressed asthe big names of theSurfest Women’s Classic hit the water in round four on Thursday at Merewether.
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Anderson took down championship tour surfer Laura Enever in heat two of the day with a two-wave score of 15.1. Enever still progressed in second with 12.93.

“I got a few good waves and it was good to get it out of the way,” Anderson said.

“No matter what heat you’re in, it’s prettyhard. All the girls here are really impressive.

“It was my first 6000-point contest heat of the year, so I was a bit nervous as well.”

All eyes were on Fitzgibbons and Gilmore later in the morning and they had contrasting heats.

Fitzgibbons came up against the Sunshine Coast’s Dimity Stoyle in a repeat of the 2013 Surfest final and again it was an upset result.

Stoyle, who is trying this year to get back on the CT, produced the standout performance of the round, earning scores of 9.43 and 8.23 for a 17.66 total. Fitzgibbons was second with 14.77 (7.77 and 7).

”All the other girls got off to a really quickstart and got a few good waves straight off the bat,” Stoyle said.

“I kind of had nothing, so I thought I just had to relax, sit out here, use priority and wait on a bomb, and that’s what Idid. I got a nine on that, and that turned my heat around.”

Fitzgibbons believed her wave selection needed to improve.

“We’re expecting some increase in swell and hopefully some more opportunity,” Fitzgibbons said.

“There’s a few things I really need to tighten up on, but it was my first heat back in the water, so hopefully next heat I can have a few more opportunities and the waves I’m selecting are a little more on point.

“I think you get so excited, putting the jersey back on. You want to catch waves, then you remember you’re in a heat. That strategy will definitely come into play next heat.”

Gilmore had an easier time in her first heat of the year, posting an eight-point ride early, despite fallingon the wave,to set up a winning total of 15.1. It was the 2008 Surfest champion’s first heat of the year after missing most of 2015 with injury.

”It’s good to take the pressure off with a nice first wave,” Gilmore said.

“I fell off at the end, and that was my first surf of the morning, and I was a bit nervous and had a few things going on.

“It was a nice way to start. Merewether is always a nice spot to hang out with these little right-handers, which is what I like to surf.

“They are my sort of waves, and I think in the next couple of days we’ll get some more, so it’s going to be fun.”

Australian Keely Andrew and Alessa Quizon, who are both CT surfers this year,were the major casualties of the round.

The Surfest men’s competition resumed with round three in the afternoon. Merewether’s Ryan Callinan is due to surf at 3.30pm.

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