Margaret River Pro; Sally Fitzgibbons in danger of missing mid-season cut again

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Australian veteran Sally Fitzgibbons will have to survive a do-or-die elimination heat at Margaret River to avoid missing the dreaded mid-season cut on the WSL tour for the second year.

As young star Molly Picklum declared she had her “energy back” after a lacklustre performance at Bells Beach with a win to go directly into the round of 16, Fitzgibbons, the 2017 Margaret River champ, was again thrust into a last-gasp battle.

Fitzgibbons, 33, narrowly lost her showdown with Hawaiian Bettylou Sakura Johnson and fellow Aussie Tyler Wright, who is eighth on the rankings, with the top 10 surfers after Margaret River staying alive for the remainder of the season.

She joins locals India Robinson and Bronte Macaulay in the elimination heats, with all fighting to survive the mid-season cut.

Picklum and Isabella Nichols, who moved in to 12th on the live rankings, were the only Australian winners on the opening day, with surfing called off after the six women’s heats. Bells champion Caitlyn Simmers was among the other winners.

Having lost the No.1 ranking after failing to make the quarter-finals at Bells Beach in Victoria, Picklum said she felt like she was getting back to her best having started the year in style with a win in Hawaii.

“Obviously, I had a really strong start, then readjusted my sails at Portugal and Bells was a bit of a whirlwind, but I’m really happy to be here,” the 21-year-old said.

“There’s fun waves to chase. I’m all stoked I’m surfing again, I have energy back and I’m really happy.”

Nine Aussie men will be in action when they get their chance to surf.