The Rip Curl Pro is the longest running surfing contest in the world. Each year the world’s best surfers descend on Bells Beach in the hope of winning this prestigious event and having the chance to ring the prized Bell trophy in the carpark. Other contests might have bigger waves and more prize money, but Bells is the one they all want to win.
This year the hunger for the trophy was strong as past and present world champions fought it out in epic waves throughout the contest.
Easter Monday was a classic with beautiful sunshine and plenty of swell pumping into Bells Beach. There were no excuses on the day. The waves were big and consistent. If you wanted to win you just had to go for it and go for it the women did.
Californian Courtney Conlogue was on fire early as she defeated three times Bells Champ Carissa Moore in the quarter finals while current World Champ Tyler Wright was smashing lips with her power surfing as she defeated Coco Ho.
In the final Sally Fitzgibbons was surfing on one leg after a nasty surfing accident last week and was unlucky to lose to Lakey Peterson. The ever smiling Fitzgibbons then spent the next hour signing autographs on the beach still in her wetsuit.
The semi finals were a tight affair with Courtney Conlogue defeating Tyler Wright who creased her surfboard with five minutes to go in the heat attempting a massive re-entry in the shorebreak.
The final was one of the best seen at Bells as solid six foot waves rolled into the beach giving Conlogue and Gilmore every opportunity to whack a few lips.
Gilmore lead for most of the final but Conlogue’s last wave scored a 9.0 and she overtook the Aussie champ with five minutes to go and the Californian got to ring that Bell for the second year running.
The men’s final was as exciting as they come with plenty of big waves and powerful performances. Crowd favourites Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater were knocked out before the semi-finals while a group of relatively unknown surfers including Caio Ibelle and Frederico Morais kept winning.
The final held in fading light and mist, was a ripper. South Africa’s Jordy Smith against Caio Ibells from Brazil. Jordy started on fire with a 7.00 and 9.10 for his first two rides. Caio was pumped… perhaps a bit too pumped as poor wave selection let him down. Jordy just kept doing what he does best – paddling into the biggest waves he could find and tearing them to shreds before risking life and limb by smashing into the Bells shorebreak. It was a powerful display of surfing from the big South African. As the sun set over Bells Beach that familiar ring could be heard echoing up the carpark. Jordy Smith had won his first Bell. A moment that he will treasure forever.
Written by John Foss, images by John Foss.