Fine start for Sally

SURFING

Gerroa's Sally Fitzgibbons starred in the late show at the Bells Beach world tour event opening round, producing a big score in the final seconds to win her heat.

Fitzgibbons, who won successive titles at Bells in 2011-12, scored 5.77 with the final wave, to finish with 12.94 against Hawaiians Coco Ho and Alana Blanchard.

"Every time I walk down these stairs I get goose bumps," said Fitzgibbons.

"You walk into the stadium here at Bells and it's like no other.

"Having that win here and then going back to back, you're always chasing that winning feeling."

Australian rookies Dimity Stoyle and Nikki van Dijk claimed big scalps on day one of the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.

Stoyle handed reigning world champion and defending Bells title-holder Carissa Moore from Hawaii a rare first-round defeat, while Van Dijk downed last year's runner-up Tyler Wright.

Moore and South Coast star Wright now both have sudden-death contests in round two.

Stoyle, 22, also faced Moore last week at Margaret River and was glad to turn the tables on the two-time world titleholder.

"She is such a good competitor and is the world champion for a reason, because she's so strong and smart in heats," said Stoyle, who had a winning two-wave total of 15.76 points to beat Moore (15.54) and local wildcard Zoe Clarke (5.57) in the highest-scoring heat of the day.

"I'm still in a bit of shock at beating her. I told myself before the heat that I didn't want to make any mistakes.

"In the last event at Margaret River I made one little mistake in a heat against her, I paddled for a wave and missed it and the next wave she got a nine and that would have been me.

"That's why I only got two waves today and made them good."

Van Dijk drew on the experience of earning a wildcard last year at Bells Beach to win her first heat of 2014 with a score of 14.84. Wright was second with 10.94.

"Having that experience here is really important because they are just such hard waves to ride," said Van Dijk, of Phillip Island. .

"Everyone is trying to learn how to surf these waves because it's so difficult."

Five-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore also won her first-round heat to advance to round three, as did American Courtney Conlogue and Bianca Buitendag from South Africa.

The second round of the women's competition is likely to take place on Thursday. AAP

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