Sally Fitzgibbons

Isabella Nichols 2015 WSL Australasia Junior Champions

Isabella Nichols 2015 WSL Australasia Junior Champions

by DHD Surf

Nichols claimed two event wins from three finals giving her the edge over a highly talented field in what is be her final year competing on the Australasian Pro Junior Series. The 17-year-old from Coolum Beach has solidified herself as one of Australian surfing’s great hopes in years to come.

“Winning the Australasian Junior Series is so exciting” Nichols said. “It means a lot to me because there are so many good surfers on the junior tour. I’m really happy with the overall win. I went into this year hoping to do well, but focusing on surfing my best and just gaining more experience.”

This win gives Nichols a seeding and a shot at taking out the WSL Junior Championships, which will be held early next year. If she does take the win she will be the join the honour board with fellow Australian’s and WSL Championship Tour (CT) surfer’s Laura Enever who won the event in 2011 and Niki Van Dijk who took it out in 2012.

Isabella Nichols storming through the NZ Home Loans Surf Festival - WSL / Will H-S

Photos – WSL / Will H-S

“Winning a world junior title would be a massive achievement so I’m just going to train hard during this off season and try my best when it comes to the world juniors in January.”

Following in the footsteps of past Pro Junior Series winners Laura Enever and Sally Fitzgibbons, Nichols will set her focus on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) with the aim of making it to the CT.

“I’d really like to put all my energy into the qualifying series next year and I’ll see where that takes me. It definitely won’t be easy but I’ve got a good team helping me out so I’m really looking forward to the next year.”

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‘What I’m Riding’ Sally Fitzgibbons

by DHD Surf

Sally Fitzgibbons
H: 5’7 (168cm)
W: 135LBS (61kg)

Over the past year Sally and DH have really solidified their relationship and her surfing has never been better. With wins at the Australian Open, the Newcastle Surfest, and most recently her back-to-back victory at Bells it has been a phenomenal start to the season.

At the end of last year Sally wasn’t satisfied with the way her boards were performing.  DH invited her up to the Gold Coast to hangout in the factory and learn about shaping and designing the right boards. Together they measured up her old favorites, noting the aspects she liked and some of the things she didn’t like. She took off with four boards from this shaping experience and straight away went to the Australian Open in Manly and won on her 5’7 x 17 ¾ x 2 1/8 Project 15. After the event she sent DH a text, which said ‘We Won.’ “That was a great achievement not only for Sally but also a great achievement for our relationship” said DH.

In the next event, the Newcastle Surfest, Sally again surfed her way to victory. This time on her 5’7 x 17 ¾ x 2 1/8 Puzzle Piece, a fast, responsive board designed for all conditions, allowing her backhand to excel. The Puzzle Piece is DHD’s ultimate beach break surfboard with speed and looseness it allows you to get tight and keep your flow on beach break waves.

Sally claimed her 3rd win of the season at the coveted Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro against fellow team rider and good friend Stephanie Gilmore. She was surfing a DX1 with a rounded pintail, which has good hold in bigger waves. This board allows you to draw longer lines and helps make tighter turns on big open faces. Perfect for bigger, choppy, strong surf.

Sally’s feedback has allowed DH to create the right boards for her in all conditions and her results speak volumes of the two’s relationship.

“Sally fits right into the DHD team, she is hungry, focused and works hard to achieve top  results. The inspiration and great friendship she draws from Steph creates an awesome working environment for the three of us and I just love it when the two of them go head to head in the final. As a shaper watching Steph and Sally at Bells this year was really satisfying.”DH

DHD Team Rings the Bell

DHD Team Rings the Bell

by DHD Surf

With the passing of MP it was only fit that Bells would turn it on for us this Easter. Five days straight of surfing and some of the most nail biting heats we have seen for a long time. Bells is notorious for dishing out spectacular clashes and the Mick Fanning and Slater final is sure to go down as one of the greatest in history. It was a great result for the DHD team, Mick Fanning putting his first win on the board and Sally Fitzgibbons going back to back in an all DHD final against Steph Gilmore. The first two events are critical for Darren Handley as it allows him to witness firsthand the team riding their new equipment and sets them up for the year. DH was down at Bells catching the action and hanging out with his team. We catch up with him and get a rundown of the event from the eyes of the shaper.

Providing a chair for the champ, DH brings Mick in.
Q: What an amazing event for the DHD team, give us a rundown from your seat DH

DH: Yeah, it was a great event and a great tribute to MP. I was really stoked with all the team’s efforts and how their equipment was looking under their feet. Bell’s is always a great testing ground, it has so much ground swell power, it always wants to bump you off the wave and it really tests the team’s surfing and their boards.

Q: How about that final of Mick’s?

DH: It was amazing and nerve racking. If Slater is getting a perfect 10 and losing you know you have a heat on your hands. Mick had been surfing really well for the entire event and was hungry for that Bell. Mick kept his cool stayed calm and surfed hard. Mick kept his cool, stayed calm, and surfed hard. Those three turns on that wave were just what he needed. He was precise and connected his turns perfectly. Sitting there was not easy—Slater is capable of anything, but I felt this was Mick’s year at Bells, he was so focused throughout the event.

Q: How have you and Mick prepared for Bells?

DH: It has been a long time since Mick last rang that Bell and losing so closely to Parko last year, we didn’t want a repeat of that this year. We got really busy over the Summer months and set Snapper and Bells in our sights. We have really been focused on his Ducks Nuts model for those good competition days. Basically we pulled his quiver into three really tight models the ‘Ducks Nuts, Sweet Spot and Eager Beaver’ and just kept tweaking them running into the events. At this stage in the year we are really happy with them. You can see it in Mick’s surfing, he is confident with his equipment and that translates in his turns. Mick is really focused and good at giving feedback, this allows us to really finetune the designs and make boards for specific conditions and locations.

Sally turning up the heat in the final.

Q: Sally and Steph the DHD duo, sitting on the fence for that one?

DH: Yeah what a position to be in, both final surfers on your boards. I did have to sit on the fence for that one. Sally and Steph have a great rivalry going, they are great friends and Steph has been a great inspiration for Sally. It was an awesome effort to win Bells back to back and a great final to watch, the two of them are really pumped for this year and they just keep pushing one another. Steph got Snapper and Sally got Bells, question is will Sally go back to back in New Zealand.

Congratulations Sally.

Q: Snapper and Bells, you have been sitting with the team in the competitors’ area talking with your team a fair bit, run us through all of that?

DH: I really make the most of these first two events, both being in Australia. I work close with the team over Summer getting their boards right for the tour. Then they all show up at my place for Snapper and we put the equipment to the test. Sometimes we make a few changes after Snapper so it is good to get down to Bells and see the result of that first hand. I get a lot of information just watching and talking to the team when they are fresh out of a heat, the waves and board is fresh in their head and it is some of the best feedback a shaper can have. Because they are both such different waves, it gives me a great scope of how the boards are performing for each team rider.

Steph off the top in the final.

Q: What were Mick, Sally and Steph riding in the finals?

DH: Mick was riding his Ducks Nuts 5’11 x 18 ¾ x 2 ¼. We have really got this model tight and Mick is loving it when the surf is pumping. He rode this board through most of the event.

Sally was riding a 5’9 x 17 3/8 x 2 1/16  DX1, this is the model Sally chooses when there is a bit of size and the surf is good. She has been riding the Eager Beaver, Project 15, Puzzle Piece and DX1 and we are really stoked with how the quiver is fitting together. I reckon we will see her on the Puzzle Piece and the Eager Beaver throughout the NZ event.

Steph was riding a 5’11 x 18 ½ x 2 ¼ version of the Mick Fanning Ducks Nuts. Mick and Steph have spent a lot of time surfing together and surf very similar designs. I generally model Steph’s performance board off the Mick’s with a few tweaks that are more suited for Steph.

Adriano De Souza laying down the Brazilian power.

Q: What was the feedback from the team for this event?

DH: Yeah everyone is frothing on their boards, I reckon this is the best start to the year we have had with the team. We all got focused over Summer and the boards are just so tight, all the team keep calling me up and they are just frothing. Everyone is really happy with quality as well, the team keep commenting on the strength and lightness of their boards. This is a hard balance with team riders to have the lightweight performance and maintain strength. You need to have confidence in your equipment, not only the performance but durability as well. It is taking them a lot longer to wear out their boards which is a big plus, particularly if it is a magic board. A lot of the team are liking the Puzzle Piece and the DX1 as their performers. Jordy Smith was looking great with the 6’3 x 19 1/8 x 2 ½ DX1 under his feet in a few heats, Adriano was stoked with his 5’10 x 18 3/16 x 2 1/8 DX1 in those conditions. Everyone is feeling really comfortable with their equipment after the first two events, at the end of the day that is what I want to hear.

Jordy Smith Superman in the bowl.

Q: Your boards are popping up under everyone’s feet, how do you work with such a large team

DH: The team never seems to stop growing, there are a few more guys on the core team this year and my test pilot team is always growing. I love working with such a large team, there is so much surfing experience amongst them all and each surfer is so different. As a shaper you can’t get enough of it, it fuels my inspiration and keeps me pushing to get the ultimate design for everyone.

Snapper & Roxy Pro Highlights 2012

Snapper & Roxy Pro Highlights 2012

by DHD Surf

The 2012 Quiksilver and Roxy Pro at Snapper, hasn’t seen all time conditions, but there have been some fun waves here and there. All the DHD team picked up their fresh batch of boards for the event and were pumped to get out there. Here at DHD fingers are crossed for a Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons final in the Roxy Pro. Jordy Smith and Adriano De Souza are still representing the DHD team in the men’s, both getting ready for a big quarter final. Check out some of the snaps from Snapper thanks to the DHD team.

Back in 1st place

Congratulations Steph Gilmore

Watch out for Mick at Bells

Big carve from the big man Jordy Smith

Steph warming up for her semi

Steph, Jake and DH

Sally Fitz on fire

Jordy Smith breaking free

Garrette all grins with his spot in the main event

Steph takes a break at the top

Jordy Smith looking on

Awesome effort from Garrette Parkes smashing the trials and earning himself a gig in the main event. Expect big things from this fella.

Jordy Smith looking powerful for 2012 on his DHD

Adriano pre-heat pump up

Steph Gilmore looking hard to beat on her DHD

Alejo Muniz looking ready to go hard this year

Sally Fitzgibbons is hungry for her first world title

Kierren Perrow in good form following his 2011 Pipe Masters victory

DH and Steph Gilmore comparing notes

Sally Takes Charge

Sally Takes Charge

by DHD Surf

What a start to the year for Sally Fitzgibbons taking out the Australian Open at Manly recently. Sally rode her new Project 15 5’7 1/2 x 18 5/8 x 2 1/8 picture below. One of the models DH shaped for her new Snapper/Australian Open quiver. This was a great result for Sally as she won the US open last year, making her back to back winner of the USA/Australian Open Series.

A great start to the year for the DHD team and we are all expecting a tough and friendly battle between Sally and Steph this year. Both team riders are pumped to get the year rolling, with the upcoming Roxy Pro at Snapper.

The winning Project 15

Check out the shots below of Sally and her new quiver for the Australian Open.

Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) defeated Sofia Mulanovich (PER) in the final of the ASP 6-Star rated Australian Open Of Surfing, both surfers posted decent scores, but Fitzgibbons timed her turns to perfection to take out the event and claim the USD$8,000 winners cheque. Fitzgibbons has been in fantastic form all event, being rewarded by the judges for her ability to link turns together with her trademark smooth style. This week at the Australian Open Of Surfing Fitzgibbons notched four of the top 10 wave scores and two of the top three heat totals, proving that she was the inform surfer of the event and that she’s not being hampered by her wrist injury.  

“It’s unbelievable!” Fitzgibbons said. “I was just focusing on working through my boards and going through some heats and before I know it I’m in the final. Sofia (Mulanovich) is such a tough competitor, I knew she’d be able to get the score needed, so it was a nervous wait at the end there. To win in front of this crowd, with so much support feels amazing! Then to have won the US Open and then the first ever Australian Open back to back is a special achievement.”

The 2012 DHD quiver, looking bright and fresh, just like Sally’s surfing.