Top surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has left her beloved home break in Australia for competitions across the globe. Innovation & Tech Today sat down with Sally to hear more about the dryland training regimens that power her stellar performance in the water, and the deep competitive drive that enables her career.
Innovation & Tech Today: You’re incredibly motivated when it comes to competition, exercise, and diet. How do you continue to sharpen your mental edge?
Sally Fitzgibbons: You have to continually want to improve all areas of your game as an athlete. There are so many physical attributes that allow me to stay mentally strong in clutch moments in competition. After all these years I am proud of the hard work I have put in, but by no means am I content. That’s what keeps driving me towards success.
I&T Today: Are there any specific technological innovations for surfing, like wearables, that you like?
SF: I am working with my major partner Samsung to integrate the latest technologies to take my performance to the next level as an athlete. From tracking and logging my training and competitive heats to helping produce my soon to be released Fitness App, “Train Like Sally,” technology plays a huge part in helping me improve in all areas of my life.
I&T Today: How do you manage a rigorous training regimen while travelling so much?
SF: It’s always challenging on the road while competing on the World Tour. Your surroundings and training conditions are always different. Training outside of the water, you are not always going to have the perfect gym set up so you have to utilize parks and amazing running trails, and I make sure I travel with key items in my board bag to allow for flexibility in my training. I develop a nice routine that I love and then just keep adding and subtracting as I go through the time at that location. Listening to what my body needs and monitoring when I will be competing to adjust the workload is all part of the challenge.
I&T Today: How does the energy of a big crowd affect you?
Sally Fitzgibbons: I love the energy of a big crowd. It sends that adrenaline right through the body and I really try to embrace that and turn that into a positive and fuel a really strong performance. There is nothing better as an athlete than suiting up, warming up, and running out through the crowds on the way to the lineup, and everyone is cheering your name and giving you high fives wishing you all the best. It is such an amazing feeling.
I&T Today: Do you feel like time slows down when you’re taking off on a big wave?
SF: I feel time definitely slows down. You see that big set coming your way and those butterflies and adrenaline go racing through your veins. You put the head down and start paddling your butt off as fast as you can go. It is all about commitment when the waves are big. You have to believe you will make that drop. No second-guessing, or you will be toast.
I&T Today: Are there any changes to the sport of women’s surfing that you would like to see in the next five years? What about women’s big wave surfing?
SF: I feel women’s surfing will continue to blossom in the next five years. There is an amazing level of talent on the World Tour at the moment that will continue to push the sport to new heights and there is an amazing wave of young talent developing globally as we speak. I would love to see more and more events being held in great wave locations, providing that platform for performances to continue to elevate. A coin toss at events to determine whether the women’s or men’s event will run on that day would be another introduction I’d like to see.
I&T Today: What is your favorite wave right now, and why?
SF: My home break. There is no better feeling than running down from the house and having a wave to surf by myself with just my family and friends in the lineup. On tour the lineup is always crazy crowded and there’s so much intensity in trying to battle for waves to practice on. At home you can just take a deep breath and have space.
I&T Today: What was it like sub-zero surfing in Nova Scotia? Would you do it again?
Sally Fitzgibbons: What a wild experience. It was insane surfing water that cold. I was in awe of all the local surfers that brave freezing temperatures every time they go surfing. I loved the beauty of Nova Scotia, coupled with the painfully freezing water temps and the fun adventurous energy of chasing a swell somewhere I had never surfed before. I would for sure do it again.
I&T Today: Aside from a world title, what drives you to be your best? Could you say having three older brothers kick-started your competitiveness?
SF: My Mum, Dad, and fiancé drive me to be my best self every single day. I have that competitive drive instilled deep inside me. Maybe having my big brothers around growing up helped make me determined, as they never gave into me. I just want to be the best athlete I can be, the best businesswoman I can be, and the best person I can. I want to create platforms to reach out and help as many people as possible along the way. This really inspires me to work hard and not give up on my dream both in and out of the water.
I&T Today: What is the first thing you will do when you get that world title?
SF: I will most likely be quite overwhelmed and have a cry, a happy cry. I will tackle and hug all of my loved ones and know we succeeded as a team not as a solo mission. It will be the heaviest cup I’ll ever lift because of all those who have contributed to my journey in some way. I’ll lift it for all of them.
You can follow Sally on Instagram, Twitter @Sally_Fitz and on her website:
Photos courtesy of Red Bull.