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Stoyle shines as big names make splash

IN FORM: Sunshine Coast surfer Dimity Stoyle pulled out a 9.43-point ride after a slow start in her first heat at Surfest 2016 to progress to round five. Picture: WSL/BennettDIMITY Stoyle got one over Sally Fitzgibbons again at Surfest but the top seed still progressed along with six-time world champion StephanieGilmore and Merewether hope Philippa Anderson on Thursday.
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The big namesmade their debut in the 6000-point qualifying series contest in round four, and world No.3Fitzgibbons came up against Stoyle in a repeat of the 2013 Surfest final.

Stoyle, who is trying this year to get back on the championship tour, produced the standout performance of theround, earning scores of 9.43 and 8.23 for a 17.66 total. Fitzgibbons was second with 14.77 (7.77 and 7).It was the start Stoylewas after at the Surfest Women’s Classic,which launched her onto the CT in 2014.

“I just want to get straight back on tour,that’s my goal, so it feels really good to get first heat out of the way,” Stoyle said.“I love matching up against the girls on tour and makingsure I’m still at that level. I think that’s what it’s going to take.”

Fitzgibbons said she would have to improve her wave selection but was pleased for the early test against Stoyle.

“We’ve had some great battles over the years, and especially last year on tour,” Fitzgibbons said.“We kind of had that magnet for one another, in the draw it just seems tohappen that we meet up. Butshe’s in great form and it’s interesting getting used to that four-person priority.”

Gilmore had an easier time in her first heat of 2016, posting an eight-point ride earlyto set up a winning total of 15.1.Anderson edged outCT surfer Laura Enever in heat twowith the same score.

UP AND AWAY: Merewether’s Philippa Anderson gets the fins out in her commanding heat victory on Thursday at Surfest. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Gilmore, the 2008 Surfest champion, missedmost of 2015 with injury and was glad to get off to a strong start on the World Surf League ahead of the CT opener on her home break, Snapper Rocks, from March 10.

”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.”

Anderson, who won in 2009 and was runner-up last year at Surfest, was equally impressive and faces Ella Williams and Nikki Van Dijk in round five.

“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.”

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

SHINING LIGHT: Stephanie Gilmore is all smiles after winning her round four heat at Surfest on Thursday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Avova 15-year-old Macy Callaghan, now a two-time Surfest Pro Junior winner, was second to CT surfer Nikki Van Dijk to progress.

Kiwi Paige Hareb was also a winner, while Hawaiian glamour girl Alana Blanchard was second in the same heatto move on.

Past Surfest champions Malia Manuel, Coco Ho and Silvana Lima also made the cut into three-womenround five heats.

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