Manuel takes second in Hunter Ports Women’s Classic

Kaua‘i’s Malia Manuel dropped to Sally Fitzgibbons of Australia to earn second place at Merewether Beach in  Newcastle, Australia, Friday.

Fitzgibbons, runner-up to the 2011 Association of Surfing Professionals Women’s World Title, has been a standout performer at Sunfest throughout the week, posting four of the top 10 single-wave scores of the Hunter Ports Women’s Classic, according to an ASP release.

Manuel started the day on a high note, eliminating the reigning ASP Women’s World Champion, Carissa Moore of Hawai‘i, in the Quarterfinals, 11.66-11.17.

She defeated Sage Erickson of the USA in the semifinals, 14.20-12.17, to face Fitzgibbons, who just edged out Courtney Conlogue of the USA, 15-04-15.00.

However, in the final, Manuel was unable to find the open-faced waves which offered up sections to execute the impressive moves she performed earlier in the day to advance past Moore.

“I’m really happy to make the final and rack up some points,” Manuel said in the release.

 “I’d really like to stay in the Top 5. I’m really happy right now. I wish I could have caught a couple more waves, but either way, first or second is great for me. I’m enjoying Australia and looking forward to the rest of my time here.”

This was a great result for Manuel who has started her rookie ASP World Championship Tour in fine style, ASP states. She now heads to Margaret River in Western Australia for her next event, which starts on Monday.

Fitzgibbons dominated the wave selection and execution in two-foot surf to capture her second ASP 6-Star win after taking out the Australian Open in Manly in February.

During the final, Fitzgibbons was clinical in her attack, executing fins-free turns, perfectly timed snaps and smooth carves to post a 16.70 over Manuel’s 12.00 in the final.

“Today was a bit of a struggle to find the good ones,” Fitzgibbons said. “I just had to pick the eyes out of it to find the best waves. The competitive rhythm is back, and it’s all feeling good.”

The Newcastle’s Surfest 2012 consists of two ASP 6-Star World Tour events — The Burton Toyota Men’s Pro and the Hunter Ports Women’s Classic which was won by Fitzgibbon, Friday.

Taj Barrow of Australia is the top men’s seed in The Burton Toyota Men’s Pro.

Visit www.surfest.com for more information.

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