Nichols downs Fitzgibbons to win Sydney Surf Pro
Isabella Nichols has pipped Olympian Sally Fitzgibbons for a confidence-boosting Sydney Surf Pro victory as both battle to win a place back on the World Championship Tour.
The Queenslander laid down an early score of 5.67 in the final at North Narrabeen on Monday and backed it up with a top-scoring 8.17 for a tally of 13.84.
Fitzgibbons, who through the competition earned a near-perfect 9.70, managed a total of 10.14 and had to settle for second spot.
In typical Fitzgibbons fashion, the popular veteran helped chair winner Nichols up the beach to celebrate.
Ranked 14, Nichols missed the CT's 10-surfer mid-season cut last month as did Tokyo Olympian Fitzgibbons, who was heartbreakingly in 11th spot.
Nichols said she contemplated not even competing in Sydney.
"This is not what I expected at the beginning of this week," Nichols said.
"I was considering not coming to this event because I just wasn't in a great headspace.
"It's been a really tough year for me and my confidence has been really low so it's crazy to be here now having won the event."
The men's draw was down to the final four on Monday with American Cole Houshmand ousting Newcastle's Jackson Baker before trumping another Australian Jacob Willcox in the final.
Houshmand, 22, was unstoppable in the decider, posting scores of 9.17 and 9.80 in the six to eight foot conditions on the northern beach break.
West Australian Willcox managed a total of 13.23.
Gold Coast Pro winner India Robinson, who was eliminated by 25-year-old Nichols in the semi-finals, heads the Challenger Series rankings ahead of Fitzgibbons with Nichols third.
There are 48 women competing in the six-stop series with the top five promoted back to the CT.
Willcox leads the 80-strong men's field after the opening two events with Baker the next best placed Australian in sixth with 10 men to be elevated.