SURFING glamour girl Sally Fitzgibbons will return to Newcastle next month to defend her six-star Surfest crown.
The world No.2 is one of the biggest names in women’s surfing after finishing runner-up in the last three Association of Surfing Professionals world tours.
After a long association with Surfest, the 22-year-old broke through last year for her maiden title when she blitzed Hawaiian Malia Manuel in the final, fought out in choppy conditions at Merewether.
‘‘I’ve spent so many years competing at Surfest as a junior and it was great to win there last year,’’ Fitzgibbons said.
‘‘Surfest has a special place in my heart. Last year I had a tough knockout at Snapper so the win at Newcastle gave me the opportunity to get confident with my equipment across a range of conditions and that confidence boost set me up well for my win at Bells.
‘‘I feel I learnt a lot during the 2012 events and will be putting that knowledge to the test this year.’’
There is strong speculation that newly-crowned world men’s champion Joel Parkinson will be announced shortly for Surfest men’s pro, which begins on February 18.
Last week former world champion Mark Occhilupo was revealed as the first star entrant of the $147,000 event.