Courtney Conlogue of the USA (pictured) winning her Round 1 heat at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach on Thursday March 24, 2016. Conlogue posted a near perfect 9.17 (out of ten) to advance directly into Round 3. PHOTO: © WSL / Sloane
Carissa Moore (HAW), three time World Champion and winner of the last three Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach events, showcased her dominance at Bells by putting up two solid 7-point-rides to win the heat and advance to Round 3. 16-year-old Trials winner Brisa Hennessy (HAW) and 2016 WSL rookie Keely Andrew (AUS) fought to send Moore into Round 2, but were not able to take down the CT superstar.
“Last year I was definitely trying to work through my self-doubt and my confidence,” said Moore. “I am continuing on that journey by trying to let go of it more and just be free and enjoy myself. I am so stoked to be back at Bells. I love the wave, the people here and the location.”
Current rankings leader Tyler Wright (AUS) battled Sage Erickson (USA) and Coco Ho (HAW) to secure her lead. Ho took control for the majority of the heat with a 14.20 two-wave combined score, but Wright fought back with a 15.43 lead over the Hawaiian. Ho and Erickson will battle in Round 2, while Wright moves on to Round 3.
“I had a slow start to the heat, but I was comfortable the whole time,” Wright said. “I try not to overthink that stuff too much. This is the first time where I am approaching every event differently. I am enjoying throwing up all new challenges and thriving.”
Stephanie Gilmore of Australia (pictured) placing second in her Round 1 heat of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach on Thursday March 24, 2016. Gilmore posted a heat total of 12.83 (out of a possible 20.00) and will surf Round 2 when competition resumes. © WSL / Sloane
The opening round of the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach witnessed six-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) knocked down to Round 2 by lethal backhander, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF). Buitendag scored a 7.83 under Gilmore’s priority to take the lead in Heat 1 Round 1. Buitendag will compete in Round 3, while Gilmore and 2016 WSL rookie Chelsea Tuach (BRB) will compete in elimination Round 2.
“Every time we paddle out at Bells it is challenging and a surprise to what we are going to get,” Buitendag said following her heat. “I try to catch the waves further up the point. Being on your backhand, you need to get the waves that run a little bit slower because you are not as receptive as your frontside.”
Local favorite Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) faced Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Laura Enever (AUS) in Heat 4. This heat saw plenty of drama with Enever encountering an early setback in with a broken leash, and an interference call on Van Dijk in the last two minutes. Conlogue earned a solid two wave score of 16.17, including a 9.17 point ride, to give her an entry into Round 3.
“It would be amazing to have my name on the Bell,” Conlogue said. “I have that fire and I want it, but there is a long process. This wave is so testing and you’ve just got to stay on your toes. It always throws curves at me, and I am always learning at this location.”
Joanne Defay (FRA) will advance to Round 3 after defeating 2015 Rookie of the Year Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and injury replacement Bronte Macaulay (AUS) in Heat 6. Defay locked up a solid 8-point-ride to edge out Weston-Webb by only 1.03 points.
“I am going to take it heat by heat,” Defay said. “It is a bit difficult for me sometimes here. I am very happy about this first heat and I am going to continue in that routine.”
Highlights from the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.
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Tyler Wright of Australia (pictured) winning her Round 1 heat of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach on Thursday March 24, 2016. Wright posted a heat total of 15.43 (out of a possible 20.00) to advance directly into Round 3. © WSL / Cestari
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 13.00, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.83, Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 6.10
Heat 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.34, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.50, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 11.34
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.10, Brisa Hennessy (HAW) 10.20, Keely Andrew (AUS) 9.76
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.17, Laura Enever (AUS) 11.67, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 7.30
Heat 5: Tyler Wright (AUS) 15.43, Coco Ho (HAW) 14.20, Sage Erickson (USA) 7.76
Heat 6: Joanne Defay (FRA) 14.33, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 13.30, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 9.17
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Chelsea Tuach (BRB)
Heat 2: Sage Erickson (USA) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Brisa Hennessy (HAW)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 5: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 6: Keely Andrew (AUS) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)