The upcoming 2018 Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach will mark the 13th year Aussie Sally Fitzgibbons has competed in the iconic event. Which, when you take a moment to consider she’s only 27 years old, would have made her a grommet of 14 when she first paddled through those Cali waves.
So, if you’re a surf lover, and haven’t yet ticked Huntington Beach off your bucket list, we reckon our chat with Sally will convince you to head over.
How would you describe Huntington Beach for those who’ve never been?
Huntington Beach is a stretch of beach that feels timeless. The waves and beach front never change dramatically. The flood of people that come into town for the US Open brings the energy that transforms the town, the pier, the crowds on the sand. It’s pretty cool. No matter what the waves are doing, there is always an atmosphere to run out and compete in. The pier is what really sets it apart as it puts the crowd out into the ocean and, at times, right on top of your head.
Sally Fitzgibbons with Kelly Slater at the 2011 US Open
What makes this comp unique to other surfing comps throughout the year?
I’ve competed in the US Open the past 13 years. I find the energy and atmosphere to compete in sets it apart from other major surfing events. I also love the surf history that comes with being at the iconic Huntington Beach. It is epic paddling through the pier in the Jersey and thinking how many legends of our sport have done the same.
Dealing with jet lag is a pain when going overseas for an active holiday! How do you minimise the effect when you have to compete?
Jet lag is always tricky to manage. I just listen to what my body is saying and sleep when it needs. If it’s day time, I set my alarm for short naps to help getting a rhythm. I wear my Under Armour compression gear when I’m flying and then use my training and exercise to transition into the time zone. I also just got a pair of Tom Brady’s Under Armour pyjamas which they say are a great help for recover.
“The pier is what really sets it apart as it puts the crowd out into the ocean and, at times, right on top of your head,” says Sally.
And what about food? It’s so easy to go crazy on hols, but diet is obviously important when you want to perform at your peak. How do you make sure your nutrition is on point when you’re overseas?
Working on your philosophy around nutrition is important, so that when you travel or are away from your usual routines, you can make good healthy decisions that stick to your food philosophy. I find it helps to know the specialty healthy dishes or types of fruit and veg that are famous for that country or culture and tow into their style of eating. It usually leads me to finding the freshest produce and best restaurants.
Dukes, Shorebreak Resort, Nekter Juice Bar, Farmers markets on Main St on Tuesdays and Lemonade.
Where will you be celebrating in Huntington Beach after the comp ends?
Wherever friends are to talk stories from the week and hang out. Usually on Main somewhere or Shorbreak Resort.
The Vans US Open of Surfing is the world’s largest surf competition and lifestyle festival, taking place at Huntington Beach, July 28 – August 5.
Discover what the Women’s Health initiative WinS is and how you can get involved here.
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