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Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has no intention of hanging up her board despite dropping off the World Surf League championship tour for the first time in over a decade.
Fitzgibbons was arguably the highest-profile casualty of the WSL's mid-season cut at last week's Margaret River Pro, her round-of-16 loss to Johanne Defay meaning for the first time in 14 years the 31-year-old won't be part of the world's premier surfing competition.
Instead, Fitzgibbons will have to compete in the challenger series to win back a spot on next year's tour.
It's a challenge she feels she's up for.
"I feel like at this point in my career, maybe it is a blessing," Fitzgibbons told AAP.
"Sometimes if it is a little later in your career, like in your late 30s maybe, it just feels like maybe an impossible mission sometimes just to get the energy to take on the next generation, but I feel like at this sort of point in my career I still have a lot of energy around my competing.
"I can see avenues to really keep developing my surfing and it's coming along. I just feel like I haven't really met that opportunity in a heat, especially this year.
"That's why we keep turning up because it is another opportunity to try and get to those capabilities in a heat."
Ftizgibbons will begin the road back to the WSL tour at the Gold Coast Pro, the first event on the eight-stop challenger series which includes competition in Sydney, South Africa, France, the United States and Brazil before a final event at Haleiwa in Hawaii from November 26 to December 7.
The season-opener at Snapper Rocks still has a championship tour feel for Fitzgibbons, with long-time rival Stephanie Gilmore and multiple world champions Carissa Moore and Tyler Wright taking part in the first WSL event at the Gold Coast break since 2019.
"I didn't realise how exhausting that could be or the toll and after the heat didn't go to plan and walking up the stairs, it's almost like it all empties out of you," Fitzgibbons said of the mid-season cut pressure.
"I was definitely really flat and I thought going home for a couple of days would sort of reboot but it really hasn't been that much time to really re-energise.
"Coming into an event, straightaway, the preparation is so quick and limited that it sort of almost releases the expectation or pressure valve.
"I'm going to have to rely a bit on archival knowledge, obviously have my wits about me and strategise well but the lead-up hasn't been the same so I don't really like pin it all on that has to go to plan.
"I'm here and I'll start rolling but there's a lot of challenger events. So hopefully I can just get a little momentum and be like 'hey, this is my new home'."
The window for the Gold Coast Pro opens on Saturday and runs until May 15.