Rip Curl Pro almost victory at sea
BELLS BEACH, Victoria/AUS (Friday, April 26, 2019) - The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach witnessed some of the biggest surf the event has seen since the historic 1981 contest. The world’s best surfers took on pumping 10-to-12 foot (3 - 3.6 metre) waves with 15-foot (4.5 metre) sets at Bells Beach, narrowing the draw to the final four women and final eight men.
The huge surf encouraged groundbreaking performances - not without its carnage - in the women’s Quarterfinals and men’s Round of 32 and 16. Now, the conditions and matchups have aligned for an epic Finals Day tomorrow, most likely starting at 7:05 a.m. AEST.
Two-time Bells winner Courtney Conlogue (USA) eliminated Carissa Moore (HAW), three-time Bells winner and three-time WSL Champion, in the second Quarterfinal. Moore waited patiently in the big shifty conditions while Conlogue got busy and attacked the solid Bells’ walls to put Moore in a combination situation. Conlogue, who is yet to lose a heat at Bells since 2016 (wins in 2016, 2017, injured in 2018), will take on fellow Californian Lakey Peterson (USA) in Semifinal 1.
“I just had a few personal goals for myself during that heat,” Conlogue said. “I felt like I had been surfing well this event but hadn’t had a rhythm yet, so my goal was to go out there and find a rhythm and have some fun. These are the conditions that I love to surf in because they are wild and wooly waves that test you. I changed my equipment a little and it all seemed to work well. ”
Malia Manuel (HAW) guaranteed her first Semifinal appearance at Bells, after eliminating seven-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), who was hoping to clinch back-to-back Bells title this year. Manuel controlled the heat in its entirety as Gilmore struggled to find a wave that offered any opportunity. Manuel looked comfortable in the massive surf and will move into the Semifinals, guaranteeing a career-best start to the season after finishing Equal 3rd on the Gold Coast earlier this month.
“I survived the 50-year storm today, which is great,” Manuel said. “I had a bigger board, which definitely helped with paddling and then when I was on the wave the extra rail really helped control all of the speed. Coming from Hawaii means I’ve got good experience on bigger boards and in bigger surf. Getting back-to-back Semifinals is so good for the confidence and I’d love to keep it going and push for a World Title.”
Americans Peterson and Caroline Marks continued to stamp their authority on the 2019 Championship Tour, both dominating their Quarterfinal heats to grab a spot in the Semifinals. Peterson dispatched of Hawaii’s Coco Ho while Marks took down 2019 CT Rookie Brisa Hennessy (CRI). At this time last year, Peterson wore the Jeep Leader Jersey at World No. 1, now 17-year-old Marks holds the lead and her success at Bells could keep her in the top spot.
Reigning WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) separated himself from the field in the massive waves at the Bells Bowl today, posting a series of excellent scores across Rounds 3 and 4 to book himself a spot in the Quarterfinals. Out of the five 9-point-plus single wave scores (out of a possible 10) scored this year, four belong to Medina, whose commitment and attack in the big intense surf was undeniable.
“I got so worked and took a couple of sets on the head, so I’m really tired right now,” Medina said. “It’s a good size and hard to hang in there with a lot of water moving. That’s what happens when it’s like this, sometimes you break the board or a leash, but I love it like this. It would be a dream come true to win a Bell. I grew up watching my idols winning this one and it would mean a lot to me and to do it for Brasil.”
Fellow two-time WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) was not to be outdone and posted his own brilliance with a near-perfect 18.16 heat total (out of a possible 20) to seal a victory over Owen Wright (AUS). Florence was on fire, but Wright battled with an impressive heat total of 16.97 to narrowly finish runner-up. Florence was lucky to compose himself after he was washed over the button and past Bells Beach down to Winkipop, having to be picked up by the water safety.
“It’s so big out there right now and it’s pretty scary,” Florence said. “There’s so much water moving around and you’re ending up so close to the shelf at Winki. Bells feels similar to Hawaii for me. This wave has a lot of power to it and it’s windy. In Hawaii, we tune all our boards for that. These waves are fun for me because you’re going so fast. You don’t have to generate any of the speed. You can really set your rail if you get a clean face on it. In waves like this everyone has to change their entire game plan. It’s a different mindset. I’m super stoked to go up against Gabe (Medina) in my next matchup. He’s been ripping and dropping some massive scores. Hopefully, the waves are still pumping.”
John John Florence
Fresh off an early round loss at Stop No.1 on the Gold Coast, 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) navigated the huge surf at Bells Beach to progress into the Quarterfinals. Slater looked relaxed in the shifty surf to take down 2019 CT Rookie Peterson Crisanto (BRA). Moving into the final day of competition, Slater will have to overcome Ryan Callinan (AUS) if he is to have a solid tilt at claiming his fifth Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach title.
“It’s wild and wooly out there today and there are some massive waves coming through,” Slater said “I got smashed by a few and think if I saw waves that big in Hawaii, I’d be so scared. I still don’t feel like I’ve got any momentum going really. I kind of just got through that heat. I changed boards halfway through and couldn’t get anything right, so feel lucky to get through and am glad to get into the Quarterfinals. I’ve got a lot of good memories here at Bells. It’s hard to choose the best one. Obviously, winning my first Bell is up there, then there’s the Final with Mick Fanning, even though he won it, was just a great heat, and it was the day that MP (Michael Peterson) passed away - it’s definitely a special place.”
Filipe Toledo (BRA) bounced back from his poor result on the Gold Coast and now has a shot at a maiden Bells Title on Finals Day tomorrow. Quarterfinal 4 will see the only two former Bells winners left in the men’s draw go head-to-head with Jordy Smith (ZAF) battling Italo Ferreira (BRA).
Wildcard Jacob Willcox (AUS) continued his stunning run through the event, this time delivering a loss to rookie Deivid Silva (BRA). CT comeback-kid Callinan also guaranteed his best finish as a full-time competitor (defeating USA's Conner Coffin) locking into the Quarterfinals where he will take on Slater.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 8.67 DEF. Coco Ho (HAW) 8.16
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.17 DEF. Carissa Moore (HAW) 9.37
Heat 3: Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.77 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 8.70
Heat 4: Caroline Marks (USA) 11.83 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 5.97
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Remaining Men’s Round 3 (H9-16) Results:
Heat 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.03 DEF. Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 7.80
Heat 10: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 12.20 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 9.63
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.10 DEF. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 12.07
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) 17.67 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.24
Heat 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.76 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.10
Heat 14: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.03 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.44
Heat 15: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.07 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.93
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.10 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.27
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 10.80 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 6.87
Heat 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.93 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 9.93
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.10 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 7.13
Heat 4: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 11.80 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 10.04
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.27 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 7.76
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 18.16 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 16.97
Heat 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.20 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 6.03
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.10 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.03