Fanning, Fitzgibbons avoid early exits

Mick Fanning in the elimination round at the Rip Curl Pro. (Aaron Hughes/WSL)

Ash Bolt

Australian surfing champions Mick Fanning and Sally Fitzgibbons have survived early eliminations from the Rip Curl Pro.

Competition moved from Bells Beach to Winkipop on Tuesday and Fanning and Fitzgibbons both found themelves in trouble after poor results in their heats.

In his heat on Monday, Fanning was upset by World Surf League championship tour rookie Samuel Pupo and Felipe Toledo, finishing third with a score of disappointing score of 6.73.

The loss put him into the elimination round on Tuesday against Morgan Cibilic and Seth Moniz.

The four-time Bells winner found redemption on day two of competition and showed flashes of brilliance on the way to claiming the second progressing spot behind Cibilic.

Fanning’s 11.90 in the elimination round was enough to put him above Moniz, who finished with 8.90, and moved him onto a clash with world number one Kanoa Igarashi in the round of 32.

“[Monday] was a bit embarrassing on my behalf, so it was nice to go out to go out and get some waves,” Fanning said.

“It was cool coming up against Morgan (Cibilic) and Seth (Moniz) – two kids I absolutely love and cheer for on Tour. But, I’m stoked to click into gear.

“Winki is good, it’s different to Bells, but I love it just as much and always have fun surfing heats out there.”

Two-time Bells winner and Australian World Title hopeful Fitzgibbons also found herself in the elimination round after losing a tight heat.

Fitzgibbons scored 13.06 in her heat, but was outscored by Australian Bronte Macaulay and Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb.

She returned later on Tuesday for the elimination, where she took the win and booked a place in the round of 16.

It was an important win, with Fitzgibbons needing a good result at the Rip Curl Pro to maintain her place on the championship tour for the second half of the season.

“After my first heat, I had another chance, paddled out with a fresh start, and just enjoyed my experience no matter what,” Fitzgibbons said.

“When you put your heart and soul into your surfing and sometimes don’t have scores come your way or the results don’t flow, it can sometimes break your spirits a bit and that’s when you dig deep and trust in the work you’ve put in.

“I’m so comfortable down here and love competing here so it’s good to be back.”

There was mixed results on Tuesday for the local surfers, with India Robinson moving through to the round of 16 after placing second in her heat, while Tully Wylie was knocked out in his elimination round.