• Medina, Wright, Marks, and Slater Headline Opening Rounds
• Trials Winner Harrison and World No. 11 Nichols Send World No. 1 Picklum to Elimination Round
• Experience Pays on the Bells Bowl as First Competitors Eliminated on Day 1
• More Available at WorldSurfLeague.com

A massive opening day of action kicked off the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy, Stop No. 4 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2024 Championship Tour (CT). Bells Beach turned on classic conditions for Day 1 of the competition, offering up clean four-to-six-foot surf for the completion of the men’s and women’s Opening Rounds, as well as the men’s Elimination Round, which saw the event’s first early exits.

Medina, Wright, Marks And Slater Headline The Opening Round

Three-time World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) continued his return to form today at Bells Beach, posting the highest two-wave total of the opening day with an excellent 17.33 (out of a possible 20). Medina’s scoreline included a near-perfect 9.33 (out of a possible 10) and came from an explosive display of backside re-entries. It was a shot across the bow of his fellow competitors as he continued to search for his maiden win at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Medina overcame an impressive Liam O’Brien (AUS), who finished in second, as well as 2024 Rookie Cole Houshmand (USA), who narrowly escaped the Elimination Round and will face Medina again in the Round of 32.

“Bells is one of those events that I haven’t won yet, and I’m looking for it,” Medina said. “There’s just so much history. All my heroes have won here before. I just want it so bad. I’m happy with my performance. I’ve been doing this all week. It’s good to put it all together in a heat. I’m in a good mood. Sometimes, in an athlete’s life, you gotta enjoy when you have a moment because they come and go. It’s a rollercoaster, but right now, I feel really good and happy with my performance.”

Reigning two-time Bells Beach event winner and three-time World Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) has sent early warning signs to her fellow competitors, banking the highest single score (an excellent 8.00-point ride) and heat total (a 15.17 out of a possible 20) of the opening round. A composed Wright took the win over past event winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA). Returning to Australia with momentum after a second-place finish in Portugal, Wright’s powerful open carves are well suited to the Bells walls as she hunts for a dream ‘three-peat’ win at the Rip Curl Pro in 2024.

All eyes were on the water for Heat 3 of the Opening Round, which saw 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) claim his first heat win of the season ahead of two-time World Champion John John Florence (HAW) and Seth Moniz (HAW). Slater showcased his 32 years of experience in what was a slow Bells lineup, making the tactical decision to stay busy, banking over double the number of waves of his competitors.

“It’s 30 years since my first win here and 32 years since my first event here,” said Slater. “It’s good to be back, and you know it would be a real dream for me to book in and try to get my fifth win here again 30 years later. I had to surf against John John straight up. Good way to start the day, just to get the jitters out. You know, I don’t always win heats, but when I do, I try to beat John. Yeah, I mean, it’s probably my last Bells. I’m fine if it’s my last one. Thirty years since my first win here, it’s probably a nice bookend. It will be a bittersweet sadness when I’m not coming back. I’m just trying to enjoy the event; enjoy my time here.”

Reigning World Champion Caroline Marks (USA) took a strong win in her Opening Round, utilizing her strong backhand to defeat Gabriela Bryan (HAW) and Sophie McCulloch (AUS).

Trials Winner Harrison and World No. 11 Nichols Send World No. 1 Picklum to Elimination Round

Local wildcard Ellie Harrison (AUS, above) and World No. 11 Isabella Nichols (AUS) caused the biggest upset of the day, defeating World No. 1 Molly Picklum (AUS) and sending the ranking’s leader into the Elimination Round. Harrison’s win today comes off the back of winning the Bells Trials, Surfest Newcastle Pro QS 5,000, and taking out the Australia Regional Qualifying Series all in the last month. Harrison capitalized on the hometown advantage, as the roars from the hometown crowd could be heard across the beach at the event she’s been coming to since she was a baby.

“I was really nervous for that heat,” Harrison said. “I knew my draw was going to be hard. Molly is an insane surfer and someone I really look up to, but I just focused on myself and my own performance. I stuck to the fact that it’s still just a heat; it’s just two waves. I’m normally here just watching and being a grom, getting everyone’s signatures, and now I’m in the event. Surfing at home feels amazing having all my friends and family here, it couldn’t get any better. I’ve been coming to Bells every year since I started surfing. Probably before, actually, I definitely came here in a pram with Mum and Dad, so it’s a dream to be in it.”

Harrison’s fellow local wildcard Tully Wylie (AUS) also found his way through to the Round of 32 on Day 1, posting a mid-range score in the clutch moments of his Elimination Round heat to move into second and overtake Seth Moniz (HAW). Wylie progressed with Caio Ibelli (BRA), who took the top spot in the three-man matchup.

Rip Curl wildcard George Pittar (AUS, above) was the standout of the Elimination Round, posting an 8.67 for a two-wave total of 14.07 to overcome Rio Waida (INA) and CT Rookie Eli Haneman (HAW). Pittar looked clean and precise on his frontside to earn a spot in the Round of 32 in his maiden CT appearance. Waida progressed in second spot leaving Haneman to be eliminated in equal 33rd place as he now looks for a huge result in Margaret River to move above the Mid-season Cut line.

Injury Replacement and former CT competitor Morgan Cibilic (AUS) also displayed solid form to progress into the Round of 32.

India Robinson (AUS) is one of the local competitors who will need to battle it out in the Elimination Round when competition resumes after she was unable to find a progressing spot in her matchup with Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) and Lakey Peterson (USA), with Sakura Johnson taking the heat win.

Experience Pays on the Bells Bowl as First Competitors Eliminated on Day 1

Reigning Bells event winner Ethan Ewing (AUS, above) got the first heat nerves out of the way, capitalizing with a variety of powerful forehand arcs to secure a win over Matthew McGillivray (RSA), and Pittar.

Griffin Colapinto (USA) showcased his new yellow Leader Jersey, taking a comfortable win in his Opening Round. Despite sitting in World No. 1, Colapinto didn’t let his guard down against the in-form local surfer Wylie and Tour rookie Jacob Willcox (AUS).

Past Bells Beach event winner Jordy Smith (RSA) put on a class act, capitalizing on his trademark power surfing to take a dominant win over Ian Gentil (HAW) and Caio Ibelli (BRA). With a style that is perfectly suited to the Bells lineup, Smith likened the conditions at Bells to that of his home roots in South Africa.

“It’s probably similar to where I’ve grown up surfing, the style I like to try and surf like,” said Smith. “It lends itself to that big, open-face kind of surfing, and that’s really what I love. It’s kinda bread and butter for me. It feels good to come here and have a bit of swell; it feels good to be back on the bowl. Things are feeling good; everything is feeling great.”

Eli Haneman (HAW), Seth Moniz (HAW), Deivid Silva (BRA) and Callum Robson (AUS) were unable to progress past the Elimination Round. With all four surfers sitting just above or just below the Mid-season Cut line, they will all shift their focus to a massive result in a couple of weeks at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro.

For highlights from today’s action at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy Men’s Opening Round Results:
HEAT 1: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 11.84 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 10.50, Kade Matson (USA) 4.80
HEAT 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.10 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 7.74, Deivid Silva (BRA) 7.03
HEAT 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.67 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 10.84, Seth Moniz (HAW) 5.00
HEAT 4: Jack Robinson (AUS) 12.33 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 12.17, Rio Waida (INA) 10.67
HEAT 5: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 9.90 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 9.57, George Pittar (AUS) 8.10
HEAT 6: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.00 DEF. Jacob Willcox (AUS) 10.40, Tully Wylie (AUS) 10.33
HEAT 7: Jordy Smith (RSA) 15.84 DEF. Ian Gentil (HAW) 12.06, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.30
HEAT 8: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.00 DEF. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 11.23, Eli Hanneman (HAW) 9.90
HEAT 9: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.67 DEF. Connor O’Leary (JPN) 11.66, Samuel Pupo (BRA) 5.10
HEAT 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.33 DEF. Liam O’Brien (AUS) 14.00, Cole Houshmand (USA) 8.00
HEAT 11: Jake Marshall (USA) 13.26 DEF. Crosby Colapinto (USA) 11.33, Callum Robson (AUS) 7.37
HEAT 12: Yago Dora (BRA) 10.23 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.00, Frederico Morais (POR) 9.33

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy Women’s Opening Round Results:
HEAT 1: Luana Silva (BRA) 12.33 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 8.20, Alyssa Spencer (USA) 7.07
HEAT 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 13.17 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 12.43, Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 8.73
HEAT 3: Ellie Harrison (AUS) 10.74 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 10.27, Molly Picklum (AUS) 9.33
HEAT 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 12.50 DEF. Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 12.10, Caitlin Simmers (USA) 9.57
HEAT 5: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 10.67 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.17, India Robinson (AUS) 9.00
HEAT 6: Tyler Wright (AUS) 15.17 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.60, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 13.00

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy Men’s Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.10 DEF. Tully Wylie (AUS) 11.06, Seth Moniz (HAW) 10.23
HEAT 2: George Pittar (AUS) 14.07 DEF. Rio Waida (INA) 13.37, Eli Hanneman (HAW) 13.00
HEAT 3: Frederico Morais (POR) 11.50 DEF. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 10.80, Deivid Silva (BRA) 8.37
HEAT 4: Kade Matson (USA) 13.16 DEF. Cole Houshmand (USA) 9.54, Callum Robson (AUS) 6.03

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy Men’s Round of 32 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Morgan Cibilic (AUS)
HEAT 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Imaikalani deVault (HAW)
HEAT 3: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 4: Connor O’Leary (JPN) vs. Matthew McGillivray (RSA)
HEAT 5: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. George Pittar (AUS)
HEAT 6: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) vs. Liam O’Brien (AUS)
HEAT 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Cole Houshmand (USA)
HEAT 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
HEAT 9: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Tully Wylie (AUS)
HEAT 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Crosby Colapinto (USA)
HEAT 11: Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
HEAT 12: Jake Marshall (USA) vs. Frederico Morais (POR)
HEAT 13: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Kade Matson (USA)
HEAT 14: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Ian Gentil (HAW)
HEAT 15: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Rio Waida (INA)
HEAT 16: Jordy Smith (RSA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy Women’s Elimination Round Matchups:
HEAT 1: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. India Robinson (AUS) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
HEAT 2: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Alyssa Spencer (USA)

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.