Local Trials Champ Sarah Baum Goes All the Way for WSL Win in J-Bay

Sarah Baum World Surf League J-Bay Classic Presented by Corona Specialty over Sally Fitzgibbons in clean, three-to-four foot waves at Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape in South Africa, on Saturday, 22 June, 2024. Photo: © WSL / Tostee

Sarah Baum beat Sally Fitzgibbons in clean, three-to-four foot waves at Supertubes to win the World Surf League J-Bay Classic Presented by Corona Specialty in Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape in South Africa, on Saturday, 22 June, 2024.

“I can’t even believe what just happened!” 

World Surf League J-Bay Classic Champion, Sarah Baum

It was a bittersweet end to a week-long WSL competition, and carried the aura of something truly special, a celebration of surfing. Everyone loves Fitzgibbons, but the local crowd was cheering for Baum, the local trials winner who made it all the way to the Final.

Supertubes pumped perfect waves all day, albeit a bit slow at times, and Australia’s Fitzgibbons stayed busy, building her house with two medium-range scores, while Baum played the waiting game. 

Both surfers improved their scores on a great exchange, with Baum getting an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10), but she still required a medium score to overtake Fitzgibbons.

Time was running out as the locals start whistling, the grandstand spectators chant ‘go, go, go’ and Baum gets the message and swings around into a beautiful wave. Two big turns in the pocket and Baum was charging towards a meaty section on the inside, the crowd holding their breath. 

Baum emerges from a whitewater explosion, the beach erupts and she stands tall, both arms stretched into the air. She gets the required score, and with that she’s the first South African woman to win an event in J-Bay since Shavonne Hill in 1987.

“As soon as I made that wave, all the emotions came flowing, uncontrollable. I don’t usually claim waves, but I claimed that wave. I could hear everyone on the beach blowing up, I even had goosebumps on my head.”

“I made a couple of mistakes so I was trying to move forward and not think about that. This event was just to iron out a few creases in my surfing and I feel like I did that. Now I’m off to Ballito and then the Olympics, so hopefully I can continue this momentum, carry on believing in myself because that’s the main thing I want to do,” Baum said.

Longtime competitors, Fitzgibbons and Baum are both trying to qualify for the WSL Championship Tour, and will head to Ballito for the next Challenger Series event.

“Watching Baumy go for the score and seeing her make that turn and the crowd erupting, I think that’s replaced my best memory of J-Bay by far!”

World Surf League J-Bay Classic Silver Medalist, Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons

“To be part of a real significant moment where she’s the first South African to win since 1987, I think that’s a good way to wrap up this week. I couldn’t ask for anything more, I’m so content and satisfied.”

J-Bay Classic Presented By Corona Women’s Final Results at Jeffreys Bay on Saturday, 22 June, 2024

1. Sarah Baum (RSA) 14.27
2. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.13

J-Bay Classic Presented By Corona Women’s Semifinal Results

Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.07 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.57
Heat 2: Sarah Baum (RSA) 13.90 DEF. Coco Ho (HAW) 12.97


Original Content: WSL Africa, with editing by gsport

Main Photo Caption: Sarah Baum World Surf League J-Bay Classic Presented by Corona Specialty over Sally Fitzgibbons in clean, three-to-four foot waves at Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape in South Africa, on Saturday, 22 June, 2024. Photo: © WSL / Tostee

Photo 2 Caption: SA champ Sarah Baum on the shoulders of Sally Fitzgibbons (right) and a fan after her historic J-Bay Classic win on Saturday. Photo © WSL / McGregor

Photo 3 Caption: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Sarah Baum (RSA) share a moment after their completing the Final in the Eastern Cape. Photo © WSL / McGregor

Photo 4 Caption: Australia’s Fitzgibbons had the lead for most of the final after two early wins, but Baum came back in style to capture the win.  Photo © WSL / Tostee

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