Jordy Smith wins WSL Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Smith victorious at Bells
In pumping eight-foot surf, South Africa's Jordy Smith has won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in dominating fashion. The third stop on the WSL Championship Tour, the contest at Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia, is the oldest running event on the schedule and one of the most prestigious. "I can't even believe it -- second last year and now this -- it's amazing," said Smith.
Fitting it all together
"After a few years of injury and re-building, I feel like the pieces of the puzzle are coming together this year. My family and wife are right behind me and I couldn't do it without their support," said Smith after the awards presentation.
Back to back
For the women, California's Courtney Conlogue was able to defend her 2016 Bells title and post back-to-back wins at the famed Australian point break. "Winning it last year felt so good, but to back it up is amazing," said Conlogue after her victory celebration. "I'm so speechless."
Tricky to master
"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," continued Conlogue. "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."
Waves and support
WSL rookie Caio Ibelli blitzed his way into the final, taking down some big names in the process. After besting 2016 world champ John John Florence, Ibelli came up just short against the surging South African. "This trophy is going to look really nice in my house," said a clearly stoked Ibelli. "This has been the best Easter I have ever had. I'm so stoked. The waves and the support at Bells is so amazing. It's really special. To be in the final with Jordy Smith, someone I've always looked up to, at a perfect wave like Bells, it's a dream come true for me.
Holding onto the lead
Gunning for her fourth Bells crown, Stephanie Gilmore was unable to take out Conlogue in the final and finished runner-up at Bells, but still retains the ratings lead. "We've had some awesome waves over these past few days and it was a special Easter weekend to have everyone down here," said Gilmore afterwards. "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."
Still in control
A third-place finish wasn't exactly what ratings leader John John Florence had in mind at Bells, but at the close of the Australian leg of the tour, he's still in control of the yellow jersey and well on his way to a second world title.
Keep the roll going
Florence wasn't the only surfer from Hawaii to make the semis. Rookie Zeke Lau put in an impressive performance, leaning on his powerful, full-rail frontside approach to earn the best result of his young career. "I had a lot of good heats at this event and was able to put it together more than I thought I was going to at times," said Lau. "I'm really stoked with how I surfed at this event. Coming that close to the final and falling short does hurt a bit, but Jordy has been surfing really well and capitalized at the end. This has definitely built up my confidence, especially after a poor result at Margaret River. I just can't wait to get to Brazil and hopefully keep the roll going."
Mick Fanning took last year off as a "personal year," but he has yet to really click into form in 2017. After stumbling through the first two contests of the year, he finally regained his form at Bells. Making the quarterfinals, he wasn't too upset about going down to Florence in an epic clash. "I'm really happy with my performance at this event," said Fanning. "It just feels good to put a few good heats together and get a bit of rhythm back. At the start of the year, I was trying to do things the way I have in the past and it just wasn't working for me. At this event I took a really relaxed approach and it felt way better."
Walking away with a keeper
Big Owen Wright continues to impress. Carving his way into Round 5, it's safe to say that his comeback from a traumatic brain injury has been a resounding success. "I'm not too happy with a ninth place result, but I'll definitely take it," said Wright. "I don't come into an event without high expectations, so I was definitely aiming for a better result, but I'll still walk away with a keeper."