The current ASP Women's World No. 2 has taken on a new challenge to test her own fitness, pairing up with ironwoman Jordan Mercer to tackle the Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge, a five-day endurance battle including mountain biking, trekking and kayaking. Australia's Surfing Life caught up with Ms. Fitzgibbons to see what prompted the new endeavor. This... is their story...
Surfing Life: The Mark Webber Challenge sounds insane - 5 days and 350km of mountain biking, kayaking and trekking - are you kidding me! You wilfully signed up for this?
Sally Fitzgibbons: I am definitely embarking on the longest race I have ever done. I'm nervously excited about going into the unknown. I know I have done all the training for it, but there is such a big workload ahead of me. I can't wait to push myself to the limit.
I will be competing with Jordan Mercer in the Elite Teams category. We do all of the legs together and help each other navigate through the Tassie wilderness.
What new things did you have to learn to prepare for this challenge?
It is so awesome to be doing the race with Jordie. She taught me how to paddle a kayak, but mountain biking was a new discipline for both of us. I didn't really read the fine print before agreeing to the race and then found out how long it was ... hmmm a little crazier than I first thought. Haha. It is great learning new things in the off season and all the extra work load and fitness will put me in good stead for 2013 World Tour season.
What's Jordan like at surfing? You've won Youth Olympics gold medals in running, so let us pose a hypothetical: who would win if there was a special "surfing" Coolangatta Gold? The course would involve surfing waves from Snapper to Kirra, then paddle boarding to Currumbin, catching another wave at the Alley, running along Palm Beach to Burleigh, catch another wave at the Point and then swim to North Burleigh?
I would smash her! Haha! And if you ask Jordie, she would say she'd smash me!!
It's been epic having Jordie as a training partner, we both push each other and we are as keen as one another to train hard and be number one some day in each of our sports.
Tells us about the name of you and Jordan are running with - "Red Bullettes". It sounds a bit like an air force's acrobatic flying team.
It does sound very acrobatic. We tried to jazz up Team Red Bull a little and we thought it made us sound really fast ... I hope it works!!
What on earth made you sign up for this adventure?
Red Bull teammate Rick Kelly - the V8 driver - did the challenge the year before, and when it was being thrown around the office asking who would do it, Rick filled me in and told me how amazing the race was and what a great challenge, both physically and mentally, it is. It was then that I thought it would be a great off-season goal to train for and keep my mind off how far away the next season was.
Do you think it will help with your surfing too?
The extra training volume will definitely carry over to next years World Tour season. I'm really enjoying the workload and feeling the benefits in the water.
Mates with Mark Webber and Rick Kelly, you're driving around in a sporty Mini - you're a rev head, aren't you?
I'm definitely a wannabe rev-head! I love motor sport, F1 in particular, but when it comes to me driving, I am a nanna on the road and follow all the road rules and speed limits. I love driving my Mini, especially in sport mode. I rev it up to the speed limit to be rebellious!
Your Facebook and Twitter feeds show a pretty exciting and fun-filled life. Do you enjoy the time off that the short Women's World Tour gives you?
I definitely enjoy the time we have in between events to its fullest. I enjoy doing a million and one things all over the world where ever I visit, but no, I don't enjoy having such a long time off in between seasons. I love competing so much and I train and work so hard for so few events now. I want to see a full schedule back as soon as possible.
I'm really hoping more events come on board and give the women on tour the opportunity to perform. We have an amazing amount of talent on tour at the moment and we definitely deserve the platform to help our side of the sport go to the next level. I hope the ZoSea purchase helps elevate the Women's Tour in the right direction.
You get to do so much cool stuff with Red Bull. What have been your favourites?
Red Bull is such an amazing sponsor of mine. They really understand me as an athlete and how I want to take my surfing and athleticism to the next level. We are always brain-storming new ways for me to work on particular areas of my surfing and then roll out state of the art performance projects that we, as athletes, love doing. A lot of people out there really enjoy watching and seeing us succeed or pushing to our limits. There are way too many good times to choose from, but I'd say my recent project in Dubai in the wave pool and the Mentawai boat trip were a couple of my favourites.
It looked like having the Emirates wavepool all to yourself helped to step up the level of progression?
I'm really keen to keep improving on my progressive surfing. I'm constantly inspired when I watch the men doing crazy stuff in the air and want to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can. It's always a work in progress but hopefully I can bring an air game to the tour next year.
Do you ever feel the pressure to be a "model", as well as a professional, contest-winning surfer? What are your thoughts on playing up the sexiness of female surfers to help promote the sport and sell surf gear?
The lifestyle side of the sport will always be a part of what we do. I really back what my sponsor Roxy promotes amongst young teens and girls that love the beach lifestyle. It's all about promoting girls to be confident and beautiful and comfortable in their own skin. I enjoy doing the shoots and various things on the fashion side to mix it up and keep a good balance between training and surfing all the time. It's always really fun getting hair and make up done and dressing up.
And what was is like meeting the most powerful woman in the land?
I was a little star struck meeting our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. I was already in awe of the surfing legends I was keeping company with and then to meet our top dog and be taken inside the Prime Minister's office was really special. She was really welcoming and was interested in surfing. I nearly fell off my chair when she tweeted me! A very memorable moment.
You're the ultimate sports fan. Surfing Life doesn't even go to Wide World Of Sports anymore - we just follows your news feed find out what's happening in the world of sport. Would you like to be the next Kenny Sutcliffe when your surfing days are finally over?
Haha. Legendary Kenny Sutcliffe is my idol, and Wide World Of Sports is my favourite show ... you know me too well!! I would love to follow in Kenny's footsteps for sure. I'm very passionate about my sport, as you know. I can watch any and all sport and absolutely love it. It never gets old, no matter what sporting code, there will always be an intense battle going on somewhere in the world and you can watch it in any country and not have to know the language.
So what are your top five sports after surfing?
Oooh, that's a tough call! that's like trying to pick your favourite child if you were a parent! In no order I'd say F1, soccer, tennis, footy, running.