Yesterday saw the women open the first round of stop three of ten on the Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour (WCT). The 2014 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach opened with 3-4 foot cold water waves, an excited crowd and some standout performances. The ladies were able to get through the entire Round 1 at the legendary wave of Rincon, with all competitors proving hungry for the win and the opportunity to ring the world renowned ‘Bell of Bells Beach.’
The Bells Beach playing field – photo by ASP
First to the water were American Courtney Conlogue and Hawaiians Malia Manuel and Alessa Quizon. After all the great efforts in Western Australia over the past few weeks, all the women were keen to once again prove themselves in cold water conditions. It was Alessa Quizon who paddled into the first wave of the event, completing a few small turns and placing first scores on the board. Though Quizon may have opened the event, it was Malia and Conlogue who stood out to onlookers, with both exchanging strong scores and battling for firstplace to advance to Round 3. Courtney Conlogue advanced by combining a 6.83 and an 8.17 through an array of turns, impressing crowds and judges.
Courtney Conlogue performs a big turn off the top in the first heat of competition – photo by ASP
“I’m starving for a win right now. I want to ring that Bell. I want to bang it till it’s dented. It’ll remember me.” – Courtney Conlogue
Heat 2 saw former bell ringer and Aussie Sally Fitzgibbons take on Coco Ho and Alana Blanchard, both from Hawaii. Ho gave it her all, combining turns and powerful hacks, though it was Fitzgibbons who’s knowledge prevailed, pushing both Hawaiians to round 2 and advancing to Round 3.
Heat 3 saw WCT Rookie Dimity Stoyle meet current equal World Number 1 Carissa Moore and fellow Aussie Zoe Clarke. All looked comfortable in the conditions, with Carissa full of confidence since winning the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro two weeks ago. It was the rookie who stole the show however, opening her campaign with a combination of great scores and powerful manoeuvres. Stoyle sat on a combined score of 15.76, a score of which the World Number 1 or Zoe Clarke could simply not match. This saw Dimity Stoyle advance to Round 3, and cause the first surprising result for the contest.
Dimity Stoyle in Heat 3, bettering current World Number 1 and Zoe Clarke – photo by ASP
Nikki Van Dijk, Tyler Wright and Pauline Ado would face off in Heat 4 with conditions still holding up and providing some open faces and manoeuvrable sections. Though all Rip Curl team mates, this did not stop all the women going head to head to take out the heat, all eager to move the next round and miss early elimination. As inconsistency began to occur, Van Dijk used her local knowledge to her advantage, picking off the best possible waves and mixing it up through a display of powerful turns and long cutbacks. She was able to finish on 14.84 and take out the heat, pushing fellow Aussie Tyler Wright and France’s Pauline Ado into the second round.
Five time World Champion and current equal World Number 1 Stephanie Gilmore faced off French shredder Johanne Defay and fellow Aussie Laura Enever in Heat 5 of Round 1. Gilmore would face off with the two rookies as conditions continued to slow down to everyone’s frustration and disappointment. Defay opened the campaign by tearing apart what was possible in the slow afternoon conditions, causing concern to Enever and Gilmore. Eventually Stephanie found form, completing several good scores and obtaining a mix of good scores. In the end, Enever and Defay could not match the current World Number 1, as Gilmore advanced to Round 3. The two rookies were pushed to the elimination heats of Round 2.
Stephanie Gilmore at Bells – Photo by Surfline
The final heat of the day saw South African Bianca Buitendag meet American Lakey Peterson and New Zealand’s Paige Hareb. Buitendag has had some stand out performances so far this year, and this heat only added to the list. Though Peterson and Hareb managed to scrape together some small combination scores, it was Buitendag’s back hand grovel skills that got the scores needed to advance through to Round 3.
Today sees a lay day in competition as the inconsistent conditions continued through the remainder of yesterday afternoon and last night. The competition is not scheduled to have too much down time, however the swell is predicted to rise again for Saturday and the Easter Weekend. Keep up to date with the 2014 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach here on the SurfStitch blog, or get all your live video action at http://www.aspworldtour.com
Happy Easter from everyone here at SurfStitch!