Round one highlights above
Big eliminations swept the second day of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach competition, Stop No. 2 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). The male and female competitors took to the main stage at Bells Beach in five-to-eight foot (1.5 -2.4 metre) waves to complete the remaining heats of men’s Round 1, men’s Round 2, and women’s Round 2.
Anticipation was at its peak in the final heat of Round 1 as the retiring, three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) entered the water for the last opening heat of his CT career. The four-time Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach event winner faced Sebastian Zietz (HAW) and 2018 CT Rookie Jesse Mendes (BRA) in Heat 12. Although it wasn’t his most outstanding performance at Bells, Fanning won the heat to progress into Round 3, much to the delight of the record number of adoring fans that lined the shores to cheer on their hero.
“It’s so awesome to have so much support down here at Bells, and to have my family and friends around is great,” said Fanning. “I’m stoked to get through that heat. It definitely wasn’t my best, but it will do for now. I really want to put on a good performance and continue that form throughout the whole competition. Regardless of my result, I’m just stoked to be down here at Bells, one of the most special places I travel to.”
The opening heat of Round 2 saw contender Filipe Toledo (BRA) pitted against local wildcard Carl Wright (AUS) in a battle to avoid the event’s first elimination. Toledo was eager to shake off his Round 1 jitters and find a rhythm in the Bells Bowl. The electric young Brazilian got the nod from the judges with an epic display of rail-surfing to win the heat. Wright will go home with an Equal 25th finish in his first CT event.
“That was a really close heat,” Toledo said. “I was really nervous. The local wildcards are always so dangerous as they are really familiar with the wave. There is a reason that he [Carl Wright] won the trials. I’m super grateful to advance and look forward to surfing again in Round 3.”
After falling off the CT in 2013, Californian Patrick Gudauskas (USA) has returned to the main stage in 2018. After a 25th place finish at Stop No. 1, Gudauskas was keen to make amends at Bells Beach. Coming up against Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) in Heat 4 of Round 2, Gudauskas looked sharp as he surfed to the sound of a 14.33 total and the heat win.
“It feels really good to advance through to Round 3 at such a special place like Bells,” said Gudauskas. “It reminds me a lot of home and gets me psyched on that cold-surf energy that I love. Surfing Victoria has been helping me out a lot and it’s been great catching up with everyone down here.”
Michael February of South Africa returned to the elite stage at Bells to again replace the injured 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA). Unfortunately, February suffered bad luck in his matchup with Frederico Morais (PRT), breaking his board in half and having to swim to the beach to swap his equipment. Once he returned to the lineup, the waves slowed and he never found a solid opportunity. February will get more opportunities this season as he replaces Fanning for the rest of the 2018 season.
Morias will face 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) in Round 3 Heat 8. Earlier this morning, the Australian won his Round 1 heat against rookie Wade Carmichael (AUS) and Igarashi. Carmichael won his Round 2 heat over fellow rookie Tomas Hermes (BRA) and will face 2017 event winner Jordy Smith (ZAF) in Round 3.
Following his Round 1 heat against Fanning, Zietz dispatched CT sophomore Ian Gouveia (BRA) to bounce out of Round 2 and back into the event. Shaking off his early morning loss in Round 1, Zietz was on fire the entire heat, posting the first excellent score of the men’s event, an 8.17. Zeitz ended the heat with a two-wave combination of 15.17 (out of a possible 20), which proved unbeatable for Gouveia. Zeitz will now have the unenviable task of taking on Fanning in Round 3 Heat 5.
“I’m stoked that I posted the first excellent score of the men’s event,” Zeitz said. “I was feeling a bit shaky this morning and never felt like I was in control of that heat. I totally re-focussed heading into my Round 2 heat and felt my wave selection was solid. When you get on the right wave, everything else comes to you so hopefully, I can repeat that in Round 3.”
2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA) rarely finds himself in Round 2 matchups but today faced a potential early elimination at the hands of event wildcard Mikey McDonagh (AUS). Former Rip Curl Pro event winner De Souza surfed to his strengths and attacked the lip to take down 16-year-old McDonagh.
“I really love coming here to Bells Beach,” De Souza said. “I have won here before and have great memories of this place and feel really comfortable. The judges are really making us earn big scores, which is awesome as it pushes us to take our surfing to another level. I have been studying the criteria and am working hard to achieve another solid result here at Bells Beach.”
Fellow Brazilians Willian Cardoso, Italo Ferreira and Jesse Mendes will also advance to Round 3 after dispatching Caio Ibelli (BRA), Michael Rodrigues (BRA), and Joan Duru (FRA), respectively.
Following the men’s opening rounds, wildcard Kobie Enright (AUS) upset the competition in women’s Round 2 with a major win over 2017 World Title contender Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in Heat 3.
In her professional surfing career, Fitzgibbons has never fallen below 5th place at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach event. Today marked the two-time event winner’s first early elimination ahead of the Final Series in nine years. 18-year-old Enright will advance to Round 3, while 27-year-old Fitzgibbons leaves in 13th place.
“I was going out there just wanting to surf and do my best,” Enright said. “I love this wave and just to be a wildcard in the event is amazing. I am excited to make another heat. There is definitely some pressure. I was in the trials for this event four times before this, so the pressure has chilled out over the years. I am just going out there to surf and have fun.”
Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) won her elimination Round 2 heat today and did not let Paige Hareb (NZL) disrupt her race for a fourth Bells win. Gilmore has dominated the Rip Curl Pro event throughout her career and has yet to fall below 5th place in her 12 years competing at this event. The 2017 event runner-up will be against Johanne Defay (FRA) and Coco Ho (HAW) in Round 3 when competition resumes.
“The judging scale, you can tell they are really pushing us to go bigger and better,” Gilmore said. “At Snapper, I don’t think I ever scored over a 4 or 5, and my first heat here was a struggle, as well. It feels nice that you can just go for it and get rewarded. Out here at Bells Beach, the judges want clean, solid and complete waves and maneuvers. They want to see you do three solid turns and finish strong. I knew I had to spice it up on the inside section and it worked out.”
Americans Caroline Marks and Sage Erickson lit up the first two elimination rounds with wins against Australians Keely Andrew and Bronte Macaulay, respectively.
Andrew, current World No. 2, was eliminated Round 2 Heat 1 by the 2018 CT Rookie Marks. Earlier this month, Andrew earned a runner-up finish at the first CT event of the season on the Gold Coast but did not find the rhythm at Bells to match her earlier success. Marks, the youngest surfer ever to qualify for the CT, dominated the heat with a 7.33 and 6.33, forcing Andrew to exit in Equal 13th place.
“This is my first time surfing here at Bells Beach, and I absolutely love it,” Marks said. “I came straight here after Snapper and have been surfing a lot, which has helped as it is a tricky wave to understand. I’ve been watching clips of Mark Occhilupo and Bobby Martinez, who were two of the best goofy-footers out here. It’s been really inspiring seeing how they surf this place. I had a really good start to the season at Snapper, which has given me a lot of confidence and making that Round 2 heat has just built on that confidence.”
It has been over 20 years since a Victorian has rung the iconic Bell, and fortunately for Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), there is a chance after defeating injury replacement Macy Callaghan (AUS) in Round 2. Van Dijk will advance to Round 3 where she will surf against Enright and Carissa Moore (HAW).
The final heat of the day was an all-Hawaii affair with Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) coming up against current World No. 3 Malia Manuel (HAW). In an intense battle, Manuel fell just one point short of the win and will be eliminated from the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. A standout from Stop No. 1 on the Gold Coast, Manuel will look to improve her ranking at the Margaret River Pro in Western Australia next month.
Event officials will reconvene at 6:00 a.m. AEDT tomorrow morning for a possible 6:30 a.m. start.
Surfline, WSL forecast partner, is calling for:
Solid SW swell tops out today (Saturday) with overhead to well overhead sets, then easing over Easter Sunday. Favorable offshore wind conditions for the mornings, then turning onshore in the afternoons. More sizable swells stacking up for next week to keep surf elevated, with the next one due Mon/Tues, then another by Thursday the 5th. Possible pulse on the 8th as well. For the most part, conditions next week are looking pretty good (although not so favorable on Monday).
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Remaining Round 1 Results:
Heat 9: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.63, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 11.53, Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.26
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.00, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 8.40, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 7.53
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.33, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 9.90, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 8.50
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.03, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.27 , Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.70
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 9.50 def. Carl Wright (AUS) 8.33
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.57 def. Mikey McDonagh (AUS) 8.87
Heat 3: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.17 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 9.43
Heat 4: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.33 def. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.03
Heat 5: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 11.43 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 10.00
Heat 6: Frederico Morais (PRT) 7.73 def. Michael February (ZAF) 6.43
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA)11.60 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 9.84
Heat 8: Conner Coffin (USA) 13.74 def. Yago Dora (BRA) 13.64
Heat 9: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 13.36 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.33
Heat 10: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.83 def. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 9.73
Heat 11: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 14.00 def. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 11.70
Heat 12: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 14.26 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 12.80
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Conner Coffin (USA)
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 11: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 13.66 def. Keely Andrew (AUS) 8.50
Heat 2: Sage Erickson (USA) 14.14 def. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 10.93
Heat 3: Kobie Enright (AUS) 11.60 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.34
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.03 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.36
Heat 5: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 13.83 def. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 10.50
Heat 6: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 14.93 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.93
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 1: Carissa Moore (HAW), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Kobe Enright (AUS)
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Silvana Lima (BRA)
Heat 3: Lakey Peterson (USA), Sage Erickson (USA), Caroline Marks (USA)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Johanne Defay (FRA), Coco Ho (HAW)