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Sally Fitzgibbons and Gabriel Medina are victorious on Rottnest Island

Sally Fitzgibbons and Gabriel Medina are victorious on Rottnest Island

In the closeout event of the Australian leg, Sally Fitzgibbons and Gabriel Medina have won the Rip Curl Rottnest Search, the fifth stop on the 2021 Championship Tour. 

Strickland bay turned it on with fabulous four to six-foot conditions on offer for competitors before they pack up and head off to the Ranch.

ROTTNEST ISLAND, AUS – MAY 25: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) after winning the Final of the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona on MAY 25, 2021 in Rottnest Island, WA, Australia.(Photo by Cait Miers/World Surf League via Getty Images)

Sally Fitzgibbons key to Australia’s World Championship Hopes

Sally Fitzgibbons find herself in the second spot on the Jeep Leaderboard and celebrating her 12th CT victory after defeating Johanne Defay in the Final and overcoming Tyler Wright in the semis. 

“It feels so good to be back in the winner’s circle,” Fitzgibbons said. “I set a goal to be in the Final 5 at the end of the year, and I’ve been outside of it for a few events, so it’s amazing to be rewarded for the work. If you give yourself every opportunity, every now and then the planets align and you can come out with the win.”

Now in 2021, this victory is critical to the Australian’s World Title hopes as this season will host the new one-day format to decide the World Champions with the Rip Curl WSL Finals. Only the Final five surfers on the leaderboard will qualify for the Rip Curl WSL Finals, and now at World No. 2, Fitzgibbons is well in the race to take her maiden World Title at Lower Trestles in September. 

“I grew up watching the Rip Curl Search events,” continued Fitzgibbons. “So many of them were in lefts, so it’s cool to have one back and it be in a left. I don’t get too many opportunities to use my strength, which is my backhand, and we may never compete back here on Rottnest, so this one really feels like a milestone. It just feels so good, I’m so stoked.”

ROTTNEST ISLAND, AUS – MAY 25: Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil surfing in Semifinal 2 of the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona on MAY 25, 2021 in Rottnest Island, WA, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images)

Gabriel Medina is the one to stop after a blistering start to 2021

Two-time World Champion Gabriel Median continued his amazing form with his second win this season and overall 16th win of his career. 

The Brazillian has made it to four out of five finals this year and has signalled he’s the one to beat heading into the finals and is all but certainly among the top five at years end. 

“I’ve loved my time here in Australia and especially Rottnest,” said Medina. “It’s a new place for me to visit and it’s so beautiful. The waves have been great the whole time and we have been so welcomed. This is a very special place and it’s been such a fun event for me. I made it through a lot of tough heats and am glad to win surfing the way I want to surf. I’m so happy.” 

Medina saved one of his best performances for last in the Final against rookie Morgan Cibilic (AUS). The Brazilian’s commitment to rail and above the lip surfing, going both left and right, was a perfect match with the punchy walls on Rottnest. Medina’s 15.50 two-wave combination (out of a possible 20) was enough to see him clinch his second Rip Curl Search trophy, almost a decade after winning his first at the Rip Curl Search San Francisco.

“It feels amazing to win another Search trophy all these years after my first,” Medina continued. “This has been such a good start to the season for me and I’m just so happy to keep the momentum going. My wife’s birthday is coming up and she said she wanted the trophy because it’s so pretty, so I’m so happy to have it now.”

It was the fourth time this season Medina and Cibilic went head-to-head, with Medina taking victory in every match-up so far. While Cibilic is still searching for a win over one of the best surfers of this generation, he now adds a runner-up finish to his equal 3rd and 5th placings from earlier this year and moves into the Final 5 on the rankings whilst continuing to lead the race to the 2021 CT rookie of the year. 

The next stop of the Championship Tour is the Jeep Ranch Pro, with contestants now headed to the US

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