Greatest rivalry in surf?

Jason Kenworthy

If this is the most exciting year in women's pro surfing, most of that credit has to go to Carissa Moore (right) and Sally Fitzgibbons (left), who sit first and second in the ratings, respectfully.

Rivalry drives sport, and over the years surfing has had some good ones. But throughout the ASP's storied history we never saw any major female grudge matches. Lisa Andersen dominated, then passed the torch to Layne Beachley; Beachley dominated then passed the torch to Stephanie Gilmore. Gilmore has dominated for four years and will now pass the torch to ... well, that's a good question. Because, in five events on this year's World Tour, Carissa Moore made the final every single time and met Sally Fitzgibbons in three of them. And while Moore sits atop the rankings and can clinch a world title next month in France, Fitzgibbons has beaten Moore in two out of three chances. Rivalry, anyone? Here's a little insight on the two girls that are set to make surfing history.

On meeting for the first time:

Carissa: We met when we were 13, I think it might have been on the North Shore. We both rode for Roxy at the time, and it might have been at their house over there. I think we hung out and did some little photo shoots.

Sally: It was my first trip over to Hawaii. I was over on the North Shore and it was just flat. Everybody kept telling me this place gets huge, and we rocked up and it was just flat. So we rang Carissa and she was over in Town. She said there were some small waves over there, and because we were too young, we didn't have a car and had to catch the bus over there. We couldn't even bring boards with us, so she had boards for us, and we surfed Kewalos. Her dad felt bad and was scared to let us take the bus back, so he drove us all the way back to the North Shore, which was really sweet of him.

On contending for world titles:

Carissa: I don't think I could have fathomed that it would have been me and her battling it out. I've always enjoyed surfing with her, she's a lot of fun to be around, and over the years we've just enjoyed pushing each other and growing together. First through the Junior divisions, then the qualifying series, and now here we are going for world title. I've always looked up to her and the whole way she packages her performance, and she has a really great competitive edge. She's one of those people that never gives up and fights to the very end, and that's something I really respect about her.

Jason Kenworthy

In Moore's case, style and form transcend gender.

Sally: I've been on tour a couple of years now, and to win a couple contests this year is a big breakthrough. I think I've finally stored up enough information to be able to draw on experiences. I can remember what I did in a situation last time, and that helps me make better decisions now ... when to be patient, when to go for it. I'm feeling a lot more relaxed and a lot more confident. The winning and the points and all that, that's kind of just been a bonus.

On meeting in three out of five finals:

Carissa: It would just be nice to be in another final together. She's got me twice and I've got her once, so yeah, it'd be nice to even that out if I could.

Sally: We're on opposite sides of the draw, so we won't meet unless we make it all the way to the top, but yeah, it's pretty quiet out in the water. We've had a few little battles for priority or paddling, and you can see it, we both want it just as bad.

On the rivalry:

Carissa: The best thing about our relationship is that we can leave it all in the water. When we're on land we get to joke around and have a lot of fun together, but when it comes to a heat we're both really competitive and we both really want to beat each other. I think it's great to have that friendly rivalry where we both want to push each other. I've learned a lot from the way that she surfs a heat, and I'm trying to do better myself. It's a really good relationship.

Sally: Yeah, it's there, but I think because we're so young it has the potential to become more. We'll be surfing against each other for the next, I don't know, so many years, and that's the exciting thing. No matter who takes the title this year, I think it's going to be just as tough a battle next year. Being young has its advantages in this case, and the person on top of the ladder is the person to beat, and right now that is Carissa.

Jason Kenworthy

In the truest sense of the phrase, Fitzgibbons is your prototypical "Aussie surf animal."

On what a rivalry means to them:

Carissa: I think that rivalries are really good for the sport. Between me and Sally, I don't think there's any negative energy, but I think it makes the sport super exciting. I'm stoked that I have somebody that pushes me like that. And I think that goes for all the other girls on tour too. Everybody's surfing really well and you have to bring your A game if you want to make it through a heat. I'm looking forward to seeing how we all battle it out for the next few years, it's going to be really interesting.

Sally: Rivalries are good for all sport, and to see what Carissa and I have going, I feel very fortunate. We still have a number of years ahead of us, and that should be good for both of us, and it should be good for women's surfing too.

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