World No.2 Sally Fitzgibbons has suffered another agonising defeat in her quest for her first ASP world title, going down in the quarter-finals of the Layne Beachley Classic to eventual winner Courtney Conlogue.
The final day of the three-day event and fourth stop of the women's world tour saw several big-name casualties, four-time world champion Steph Gilmore reigning champ Carissa Moore and Australian contenders Laura Enever and Tyler Wright, joining Sal on the early departures list.
After two-days of barreling four-six foot swell off Dee Why point, the final day of competition pulled out a wild card with competitors forced to refocus on the main two-three foot beach swell. The weaker waves brought the field back together, rookies Conlogue (USA) and Mulia Manuel of Hawaii progressing to their first ever ASP final.
Despite posting the highest two-wave total of the event on day one with a 9.65 and 9.0, Sal couldn't maintain her dominance on the final day and in a wave starved quarter final fell victim to an on-fire Conlogue, who posted a 9-point wave of her own.
Current tour leader Gilmore was the first big name to go down in the quarter-finals at the hands of finalist Manuel, Gilmore struggling in weaker waves and even having trouble with her trademark bottom turn with no water to work her magic from. She needed a 6.2 to advance to the quarter finals but joined local Laura Enever in the departure lounge.
Teenager Tyler Wright was the only Austalian to progress to the semis but also fell to Manuel in a low-scoring heat. The good news for Sal is the result has little bearing on the title race, the points difference between her and Gilmore remaining at 6300 with three rounds remaining on tour. Conlogue, meanwhile, claimed her first ever CT event win and took home a $30,000 cheque for her troubles.
The Women's next stop is the Billabong Rio Pro from 9 - 13 May in Brazil.