We are proud to welcome our newest T&C Surfboards team rider, Sally Fitzgibbons. For those who follow surfing closely, Sally needs no introduction. She’s consistently topping WSL podiums, leaderboards, and fantasy teams of avid surf fans. Sally grew up in the beautiful town of Gerroa, New South Wales, Australia. It was there she honed her graceful yet aggressive, above-the-lip style of surfing. A born athlete, Sally started surfing at age 3, played a multitude of sports including soccer and touch football, she ran cross-country, and earned gold medals in the 800m and 1500m at the Youth Olympics in 2007. But Sally eventually poured all her focus and energy into her first love, surfing.
Her athleticism and all-in competitive nature led her to a WSL World Junior Championship at age 16. The following year she tore through the professional ranks and clinched the Qualifying Series championship faster than any woman in history, earning a spot on the Championship Tour at the young age of 17. She backed up those performances with a stellar rookie Championship Tour season in 2009, finishing as the World No. 5. Since then, Sally has been full speed ahead. In her second year on tour she battled all the way up the ranks and nearly clinched the title, finishing runner-up in 2010. Sally continued toward her goal to win a World Title finishing runner up again in 2011 and 2012. Over the next decade, Sally would rack up a host of accolades including multiple WSL CT and QS victories, an International Surfing Association (ISA) gold medal, and qualified to represent Australia in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Sally Fitzgibbons’ relationship with T&C has been over a decade in the making. As many of the top QS and CT surfers turn to the expertise of Hawaii’s best shapers to make them boards that work well in both Hawai’i freesurf sessions and most importantly, contests in Hawai’i, Sally linked up with our own Glenn Pang to shape her boards for her rookie year on tour back in ‘09 and leading up to the women’s event at Sunset Beach. The boards rode so well, she surfed all the way to the finals at the 2010 O’Neill Women's World Cup of Surfing scoring a perfect 10 along the way. But during the 2010s, the Women's tour schedule shifted away from the North Shore to Honolua Bay on Maui. Now that the WSL has added events at Pipeline and Sunset Beach, Sally has re-enlisted the help of master craftsmen Glenn Pang to put that magic board back under her feet.
Glenn Pang explains, “Before they moved the contest to Honolua, I made Sally some boards for Sunset back when they had the comp for the women. I hadn’t made her boards for over ten years, but with the new schedule change she was here last winter and wanted to talk about getting some boards for this winter. So she came by and we talked and she said she really liked how the boards rode back then and wanted to line up a quiver for the next Hawai’i season. After she left Hawai’i she contacted me and wanted to talk about making some boards for the events outside Hawai’i. She said she actually saw someone with a Town and Country board in Australia and tried it and even though the dimensions weren’t right for her, she said the board felt pretty good. So she asked me, ‘Do you mind if I get some boards?’ and I said yeah, no problem! So we made her some boards while she was in Australia, and she said they went pretty well. After that, she made the commitment to switch over to us 100%. We’re starting to work on her Hawai’i quiver now, and I’m looking forward to working with her more when she’s here this winter.”
The current WSL Championship Tour schedule includes heavy breaks like Pipeline, Sunset, Bells, Margaret River, G-Land, and Teahupoo for both the men's and women's tour. This raises the bar and the stakes for women’s surfing, and they must now add boards to their quiver that have to perform well in all conditions, especially waves of consequence. As Sally Fitzgibbons remarks, “I’m super excited about joining the T&C stable. Getting to know all the different models in a variety of ocean moods has opened up the possibility to evolve my surfing. The range has something suited for any condition on any given day. Whether it’s the K1 in small grovel surfs, or the reliable go to in the Flux model which will light up in the majority of conditions. Then when you step up in waves of consequence it’s amazing to have that trust in purpose-built big wave boards. Having that trust in your equipment allows you to go outside your comfort zone and push your limits.”
A seasoned veteran like Sally knows the importance of having a shaper in your corner that knows the ocean in all conditions and shares the same passion for progression and excellence. We are happy she and Glenn have connected in this way. Sally comments on how their collaboration has evolved, “It has been so cool to connect with Glenn organically from some of my early years of coming to Hawaii. The stars aligned for him to shape a batch of step-up models that saw me through my rookie years on tour in 2009. I always remember the trust I had in Glenn’s shapes right from the outset and when I was presented with challenges in the competitive arena to step up and put it all on the line. It was a crucial piece of the puzzle that pushed me to go for it. The victory at Cloudbreak Fiji, and the Final and 10 point ride at Sunset on Glenn’s boards will always stick with me as some of the most special moments in my career so far. For it all to come full circle all these years down the track and have the opportunity to work full time with T&C and Glenn, I’m just so stoked! Together, I can’t wait to see where we can take my surfing from here.”
T&C Surf President Ryan Sugihara adds, “We are so excited to have Sally on the team! Glenn (Pang) and I sat down and met with her just over FaceTime and her positive energy stood out to me, it’s contagious and I really loved her vibe. She is a true athlete and professional who loves to surf and compete and I feel like she is a great fit for T&C.”
Sally’s big smile and positive vibe goes above and beyond the surf contests and seeks to pass on the legacy of empowerment to the next generation. She’s founded The Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation, a non-profit that aims to inspire the next generation of Aussie kids to live active and healthy lives. She has co-written a book “Live Like Sally”, to pass on the knowledge and lessons that she has learned in areas like fitness, nutrition, body image, victory, defeat, and adventure. Sally imparts, “My #1 goal is still my surfing career…I want to win that world title. I’m still an athlete first and foremost, but building something that’s bigger than me - that’s what really makes it meaningful.” We can’t wait to see what’s next for Sally Fitzgibbons.