What happens when you start surfing at 6 years old? You go on to snag number first in the Roxy Pro France 2013, RipCurl Pro Bells Beach 2012 and a handful of other international surfing events.
We’re talking about Sally Fitzgibbons, the 25 year old surf phenom from NSW, Australia.
Steep has this exclusive interview with Sally about the hottest surfing spots on the planet and some overall impressions on the sport.
How long have you been surfing for?
Surfing was a way of life in our small beach side town of Gerroa and being the younger sister of three brothers it was so natural for me to pick up any sports they were playing. My Dad and Brothers were really into their surfing and I wanted to be there with them down the beach, so eventually they taught me to surf. They used to push me onto small waves in the river mouth when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I did a lot of sports growing up including soccer, touch football, cross country running, athletics and surfing. I loved all of them for different reasons. Surfing just picked me in the end but it wasn’t until I was about 16 that I concentrated fully on the sport.
In your experience, what is the best place to surf in the world?
It’s way too hard to pick a clear favourite. Every country I’ve surfed in is special in its own individual way. A few that stick out in my mind would be Fiji, JBay, France and the Maldives. Many of the best breaks in the world are very crowded these days and that will only increase as the popularity of surfing hits the mainstream so often the best place to surf is a beach where there is hardly any people out or an beach on those big stormy days where fitness plays a part and thins the crowd out for you. There’s been so many epic adventures until now, I cant wait to see where I can go explore next.
What would be the most exotic place to surf?
The most exotic places for me so far have been Fiji, Tahiti and the Maldives just because of the tropical feel and warm waters.
We’ve all seen the freezing cold surfing – what do you think of this wetsuit-required trend?
I have definitely surfed in some cold places Tasmania, Nova Scotia, San Francisco even Bells Beach can give you an ice cream headache in the first few minutes so to maximize your time in the water it is important to have a good quality wetsuit. I used a 5/4 with a hood, booties and gloves. The claw gloves are better than individual fingers and to top it off I used a Roxy heater vest which has a little battery on the side to add some warmth to the kidney area. It is really hard to adjust your surfing with all that extra rubber but you can get use to it after a few surfs. The push into these areas probably comes from a surfer’s need to explore and the crowd pressure on the more popular known waves.
Where do surfing and great nightlife mix the best?
Haha do those two things really mix haha? I’m more of a daylife person and go to bed fairly early so that I can be the first one in the surf and catch an awesome sunrise 🙂
What are three essential workout moves every surfer must practice?
The workout will be different for everyone depending on your level of experience. I usually tell beginners to do pushups, swimming, jogging and yoga to get an all round aerobic fitness and the yoga will help with stretching out all those tight muscles.
We’ve seen the greybeards on boards – can anyone get too old to surf?
I guess the ultimate answer is yes. Even my Dad has slowed up as he has neck and back problems but if you work on your body every week then there is no reason you couldn’t be surfing into your late 70’s and beyond… it is really up to yourself to work at it and not just wish you could.
The oceans are at risk with rising sea levels – what do we need to do now to protect our surfing spots?
Wow that’s a big question and if it was simple it would already being done. The sea level rising will change some spots and create new spots as well and there are some active people lobbying and creating surf reserves which is a start and will help keep areas free from development. Groups like SurfRider Foundation are doing a fantastic job to protect our surf locations and keep them clean, check them out at http://www.surfrider.org.au/campaigns