COURTNEY CONLOGUE CLAIMS BACK-TO-BACK WINS AT RIP CURL WOMEN’S PRO BELLS BEACH
Courtney Conlogue (USA) has won the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach today after defeating Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in four-to-six foot (1 – 2 metre) conditions at the world-renowned Bells Beach in the Australian state of Victoria.
The third stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach, witnessed Conlogue ring the coveted Bell for the second time after her dominance throughout the final series today. The Californian unleashed her aggressive power-surfing to take down a stacked field of competitors, including six-time WSL Champion Gilmore, reigning WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) and three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW).
“Winning it last year felt so good, but to back it up is amazing,” said Conlogue. “I’m so speechless. The first two events of the Australian leg did not go that well for me, so I’m stoked to finish it off with a win. I have always loved coming to Bells. It’s an amazing arena with all of the fans down here. It’s a really tricky wave to master, so to have two wins here is really special.”
Tyler Wright. Photo: © WSL / Barripp
Johanne Delay. Photo: © WSL / Sloane
Courtney Conlogue. Photo: © WSL / Sloane
Conlogue came into the start of the 2017 season as World No. 2, but a 9th place finish at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast and 5th place result at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro set her back to World No. 9. The Californian’s win today moves her up to fourth on the Jeep Leaderboard to now put her World Title campaign back on track.
“Coming up against Stephanie [Gilmore] in the Final was incredible,” continued Conlogue. “She is such an amazing surfer and tough competitor. Maintaining composure at the end was key. I had a lot of last-minute wins this contest and that’s why it’s true that you should never give up because it’s not over until it is over.”
The Final saw an exciting battle between Gilmore and Conlogue. Gilmore got the edge on the opening exchange with an excellent 8.33 (out of a possible 10) to Conlogue’s 8.00. The women continued to charge, again posting excellent-range scores with Gilmore leading Conlogue’s 15.27 combined score by only 1.06 points. In the last 5 minutes of the heat, Conlogue took off on the biggest set wave of the Final and displayed her trademark power hacks and jams in the pocket to post an excellent 9.00-point ride for the lead. With only seconds left, Gilmore attempted to scratch into a medium-sized set but was unable to make it, leaving Conlogue to win her second consecutive Bell with a heat total of 17.00.
“This was an incredible event,” said Gilmore. “We’ve had some awesome waves over these past few days and it was a special Easter weekend to have everyone down here. To surf in front of this crowd is a really special experience. I always try my best, but it is a tough field to beat so I am happy to come away with a second and still hold onto that lead. I will hopefully hold onto it for as long as I can.”
Courtney Conlogue. Photo: © WSL /Barripp
Eventual winner Conlogue previously dispatched three-time WSL Champion and three-time event winner Moore in the opening Quarterfinal matchup. A heated battle saw the two post excellent range scores. An intense paddle battle gave way for Conlogue to regain priority at the halfway mark. With ten minutes left and needing an 8.24, Moore waited for a set to come through while Conlogue kept busy on the inside. Moore missed her opportunity at the five minute mark to put even more pressure on her final attempt. Moore chased down a wave in the final minute, but it was not enough to meet the requirement. Moore will be eliminated with her third 5th place result of the season.
Californian Lakey Peterson (AUS) was not able to hold on in the second Semifinal against Gilmore. Peterson’s 3rd place result matches her best finish at Bells in 2013. In addition to her finish in Victoria, Peterson’s runner-up result on the Gold Coast and 13th in Margaret River will put her at 5th on the rankings heading into the next event.
“This is a great result, but I want to win,” Peterson said. “It was fun to come up against Stephanie [Gilmore], but hopefully I will get her in the next one. Maybe it is a good thing that I haven’t gotten the win because it keeps me hungry. I feel like I’ve come close and I am surfing well and showing myself that I can be there in the finals. To be in the race is a great confidence boost. I am enjoying competing and loving the challenge. The Australian leg seems like a good start to the year for me.”
Stephanie Gilmore. Photo: © WSL / Sloane