Hawaiian Carissa Moore triumphs in Taranaki
Rising Hawaiian star Carissa Moore landed the biggest win of her budding career when she took out today's New Zealand round of the Dream Tour world surfing championship off Taranaki.
Moore, who is 17 and the youngest of the permanent Dream Tour competitors, defeated Australia's Sally Fitzgibbons in the final of the TSB Women's Festival held in perfect conditions at New Plymouth's Fitzroy Beach.
Moore had earlier ended the giant-killing reign of young Kiwi wildcard Sarah Mason, defeating the 15-year-old in their semi-showdown after Mason had beaten New Zealand No. 1 Paige Hareb in the quarter finals.
The Hawaiian teenager, competing in her rookie year on the Dream Tour, recorded two stunning nine-point plus scores in the final which was held in picture perfect one to one-and-a-half metre waves.
Her opening ride, scoring 9.33 points out of a possible 10, immediately had Fitzgibbons on the back foot.
But it was her third wave that floored Fitzgibbons.
Moore tore apart the fast-peeling wave to draw a 9.83 score from the judging panel, providing a final score of 19.16 out of a possible 20 points – one of the highest finals scores in the tour's history.
It left Fitzgibbons, the world No. 5, needing a combination of two 9.5 plus scoring rides in the dying stages of the final – an almost impossible task.
She scored a 7.50 and 8.67 from her two best waves for a combined total of 16.17 – a tally that would have won the majority of heats in the event, underlining the brilliance of Moore's performance.
Fitzgibbons, the early pacesetter in the tournament, defeated former world champion Chelsea Hughes, also an Australian, in the other semi.
The event was completed without any sign of the protesters who had threatened to disrupt the contest over concerns it would expose Taranaki's prized surf coastline to international audiences.
It was also a triumph for organisers Surfing Taranaki who drew praise from the pro tour's governing body, the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals), for their staging of the first-time event.
A large crowd was on hand at Fitzroy to watch the final day's action unfold.