For the third time in less than a month, a Championship Tour (CT) surfer has been bitten by the dreaded injury bug. Twice now it's happened during CT competition. The latest victim is Sally Fitzgibbons.
In the dying moments of her Round Three heat at the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach, needing a big score to take the win and skip straight through to the Quarterfinals, Fitzgibbons attempted to bang her board off a Bells Bowl foam ball, only to go down awkwardly on the re-entry.
What exactly happened next is unclear, but her board (probably a fin) impacted the top of her left foot underwater, leaving a small but deep laceration that was bleeding profusely. Fitzgibbons was attended to immediately after the heat, requiring three stitches to close the wound. Despite some initial fears of tendon damage due to the depth of the cut, medical staff think she'll have no long-term issues. Sally's a tough cookie, if it meant closing up the gash with some super glue and duct tape in order to surf on, chances are she'd have done it.
Last week at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, world No. 11 Malia Manuel heard something pop in her knee during her Round Four win over Johanne Defay. Manuel gritted her teeth and finished the heat, noting afterward, "I was just riding out of a closeout section and heard something pop in my knee," said Manuel, "I didn't really know how bad it hurt until I tried to climb on the ski." She'd just torn her MCL ligament, and was forced out of the event after having advanced to the Quarterfinals.
Fortunately for Manuel it's just a partial tear and she should be back in the water competing again soon. "I'm expected to be back in about four weeks time, after doing extensive rehab in California for the next month," she told the WSL.
Over on the Men's side of the CT, world No. 18 Italo Ferreira was having a free surf at Duranbah following his Quarterfinal finish at the Quik Pro Gold Coast. Located just around the corner from the Snapper Rocks event site, Duranbah's a punchy beach break noted for its crowds, turquoise tubes and air sections.
According to witnesses, Ferreira injured ligaments in his right ankle attempting to stand up one of his signature backside 540s. "Well, I had a right ankle injury on a freesurf morning," posted Italo on Instagram. "I'm going to stay out of a few events… Many thanks to everyone for the messages and affection. No words to thank you… It's time to recover and train hard to get back on track. I'll be better than ever."
Unfortunately, the Brazilian was forced to withdraw from both the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro and the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, which is doubly disappointing considering his two top results last season were at those same events.