Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons has shot up to second in the women’s world surfing title race after claiming her first win of the season in Brazil.
Fitzgibbons defeated Hawaiian Carissa Moore in a tense final at Rio de Janeiro’s Barra Da Tijuca on Monday, her two-wave score of 16.27 bettering the reigning champion’s 14.67.
It’s the 23-year-old’s second crown at the Rio Pro, having triumphed in 2012.
“A lot of hard work went into this victory and I’m so happy,” Fitzgibbons said.
“There’s a great rivalry between myself and Carissa. We always have such great battles and I knew I had to step things up after the semi-final to take the win.
“The crowd was sending me great vibes out in the water and that really helped.”
The win has shot Fitzgibbons up two spots on the tour standings to sit just 6,300 points behind leader Moore – winner of the past two events.
Fellow Australian Tyler Wright, who lost to Fitzgibbons in the semi-final, is a further 500 points back in third, with Stephanie Gilmore in fourth.
Fitzgibbons is hoping to continue her good form in Fiji, the next stop on the tour beginning May 25.
“It’s a long year but I think I have a lot of strong surfing left in me,” she said.
“I’m really excited to get over to Fiji and try and get another result like this.”
Meanwhile Tahitian surfer Michel Bourez has bagged his second win on this year’s men’s world tour, toppling good mate Kolohe Andino 13.84 to 6.43 in the final.
Bourez beat Australian veteran Taj Barrow and South African Jordy Smith on his way to the decider.
“I didn’t expect to win two events in the same year so it feels brilliant,” said Bourez, now ranked world No.4.
“I’m really glad I came and to have a final against a good friend of mine is wonderful – he is someone I think will be huge in a few years.”
Despite being ousted by Andino in the semi-finals, 11-times world champion Kelly Slater – who scored the only perfect 10-point ride of the event – rocketed up three spots to take lead the men’s championship.
Australian semi-finalist Taj Burrow also gained three places to claim second on the standings, ahead of compatriot Joel Parkinson.
It was a disappointing round though for Mick Fanning, the defending champion dropping five positions to eighth overall after being knocked out in the second round.