Aussie surf champion Sally Fitzgibbons firmly has her toes in the sand as one of Australia’s greatest sportswomen, but she’s determined to show the world that she can do more than just shoot the curl.
Following the release of her holistic lifestyle book, Live Like Sally, and her recently announced engagement to NRL player Trent Merrin, the 24-year-old is also in the midst of releasing a new app and foundation, all the while sharing her infectious positivity as one Australian sport’s most recognisable and approachable women.
With her inspiring attitude and friendly demeanour resulting in her getting picked up as Piping Hot’s ambassador this June, we caught up with the surfer babe for the iconic Aussie brand’s 40th birthday, chatting all things style, beauty, goals, inspiration and being a woman in a male-dominated sport.
TheFashionSpot: You have become Piping Hot’s ambassador this year. Congrats! Did you grow up wearing the brand?
Sally Fitzgibbons: I did grow up wearing Piping Hot when I was young! The label has been around for 40 years so even my dad and brothers wore Piping Hot from time to time. It’s such an honour to be associated with such an iconic Australian label.
tFS: You’ve probably worn a variety of different wetsuit brands as a professional surfer, though!
SF: Obviously I am exposed to every brand in the world and we all talk about what wetsuits are the best all the time. It is this knowledge that I am bringing to Piping Hot.
tFS: How would you describe your style out of the water?
SF: When I’m not wearing a wetsuit or bikini, which is rare, I would describe my style as casual or laid back.
tFS: What are some of your favourite Aussie labels?
SF: Zimmerman, Camilla, Mambo and The Upside.
tFS: You’ve got amazing skin. Is there something to be said about salt water or are there other beauty practices you use to achieve this?
SF: Salt water and fresh air definitely assist in keeping skin clear and looking gorgeous! As I am always out in the sun — surfing, swimming, even just walking around — I’m very conscious that I need to keep my skin protected from the sun’s harsh rays, but make sure I still get optimum Vitamin D.
Solar D sunscreen is the best of both worlds – protection from UV rays but lets the good in, which allows my body and skin to produce vitamin D! It is also important to stay hydrated and moisturise your skin after long days in the elements.
tFS: A lot of young girls look up to you because of what you have achieved. How does it feel to be a role model in this way?
SF: It’s such an honour. I am still young myself and have had many influences in my life that have helped shape me, but I try and stay true to my beliefs – be engaged, close to my family and friends and live the best life I can live. The biggest things I can say is that I work hard, I definitely live my passion and I don’t give up.
tFS: Is there anyone you personally look up to and why?
SF: I do admire the greats in all sports and anyone at the top of their field — there is something to be learned from all of them. Layne Beachley is of course an inspiration in my own sport, but these days it’s more about what she has done since leaving surfing that I admire the most; mentoring young women, advising businesses, building her own “brand” so it means something.
tFS: Surfing has sometimes been understood as a male-dominated sport. Do you think that this perception is still alive?
SF: Males definitely dominate the line-ups and in many locations I am the only female in the water. In the warmer climates you will see a lot more females. Professionally we have been making good progress in terms of conditions and prize money, so things are moving in the right direction.
tFS: Have you faced any obstacles being a female in the sport?
SF: Not so much as being a female, but just in general trying to be a professional athlete. Compared to many other female sports surfing is in a good place at the moment. Everyone faces obstacles, but I have an amazing support crew. My dad travels with me all over the world and looks out for me in any way so I never face anything negative on my own.
tFS: You’ve already achieved so much at such a young age. Is there anything you’d still really like to do?
SF: So much more! My big aim this year has been to launch my own brand based on my book, Live Like Sally. I will also be releasing my “All Australian Beach Body” app and the Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation which will focus on activating Australians. I find Jamie Oliver inspiring with the way he has addressed the way we eat, but I want to focus more on young children and their eating by sharing fitness habits and skills to motivate as many as possible to make a change!
tFS: Before we let you go, what does the rest of this year look like for you?
SF: Very busy. I depart for Hawaii in a few weeks for the last event of the year and then return for a number of partner activations and the launch of my foundation in Sydney on December 18. Birthday, Christmas. So lots to look forward to!