Surfer Sally Fitzgibbons loves to Disco in her Land Rover
PRO-SURFER Sally Fitzgibbons' latest set of wheels is a world away from the trusty people-mover that faithfully carted her and her three brothers from beach to beach on the NSW South Coast.
The Land Rover ambassador drives a Discovery, a big step up from the family's Mitsubishi L300 van, which often carried unwanted passengers.
"It was a little bit rattly and sometimes being in the bush there were a few spiders that used to come out from under the seats," she says.
Furry freeloaders aside, family trips to the beach in the van were among her favourite childhood memories.
When she was old enough to get her licence, the No. 1 criterion was space.
"My eldest brother headed overseas and I pretty much inherited his Commodore station wagon because it was the ultimate surf car.
"It gave me the freedom to go and surf all these great beaches on my own. It was brilliant."
The Commodore became an extension of Fitzgibbons' bedroom, with boards, wetsuits and other surfing paraphernalia. "There was my training gear, joggers, skateboards and surfboards, a wetsuit bucket," she says.
Then she became an ambassador for Mini and was given the keys to a Countryman, which was fun to drive but a little small for her needs.
The Land Rover hook-up was a "bit of a dream scenario", as the size makes "life, travel and adventure a breeze".
On competition weekends, the Discovery needs to swallow 10-plus surfboards, luggage and other personal items.
She is excited about the new Discovery, as it comes with a wristband key fob that she can wear in the surf. "You always have to put your keys somewhere when you go for a surf. I'd often stash them in the bush and I've spent countless hours searching for them," she says.
Fitzgibbons often forms emotional attachments to her wheels.
"Work-life for me involves so many different aspects. I'll be going from the beach to a gym to training somewhere and then maybe a function in the city, so there's that definite attachment.
"It's like the changeroom, the cone of silence and the sleep-mobile when you're parked up and need to catch a couple of winks. It's your own little space in between all these activities you've got going on," she says.
She's rarely in a hurry to get anywhere, as her commute is different to most. She can travel a couple of hours searching for the perfect break or head interstate to the Gold Coast's Snapper Rocks or Bells Beach in Victoria.
She sees it as an opportunity for "quality time" to chill out with friends and family. She's a stickler for the speed limit, thanks to a rural upbringing where a licence was a necessity.
"Once you lose your licence there goes your freedom to go surfing," she says.
If she ever strikes it super rich, don't expect to see a Ferrari or Lamborghini in the garage.
"My appetite isn't for super-fast cars. I don't really see the practicality of it. There's nowhere for my boards," she says. She'd prefer a "premium off-road vehicle - one that still has the style elements but is practical".
And heated seats, for those freezing winter mornings after a surf.