California Takes Centre Stage at Bells Beach with Houshmand and Simmers Victories
Photos by Aaron Hughes/World Surf League

California Takes Centre Stage at Bells Beach with Houshmand and Simmers Victories

Californian surfers steal the show at Bells Beach! Cole Houshmand and Caitlin Simmers claim historic victories at the Rip Curl Pro, shaking up the WSL Championship Tour

Bells Beach witnessed a day etched in history as the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy, the fourth stop on the World Surf League (WSL) 2024 Championship Tour (CT), reached its exciting climax. Californian surfers Cole Houshmand and Caitlin Simmers stole the show, claiming their first-ever Bells victories and etching their names onto the illustrious list of champions.

The final day at the iconic Bells Beach delivered clean waves in the three-to-four-foot range, providing the perfect platform for a thrilling conclusion. Houshmand and Simmers, both competing in their first Bells Beach finals, displayed nerves of steel to emerge victorious.

Cole Houshmand Makes History as Bells Beach Crowns a New Champion

The men’s final was a historic affair, featuring two Californian friends, San Clemente locals Cole Houshmand and Griffin Colapinto. Regardless of the winner, history was guaranteed to be made, with the victor set to become the first Californian male to win Bells Beach since Richie Collins in 1992.

Houshmand wasted no time, establishing an early lead with a 7.00 point ride, followed by a solid 6.50 for a combined total of 13.50. Colapinto, the in-form surfer of the event, struggled to find his rhythm until the dying minutes. Despite a late surge, he couldn’t overcome Houshmand’s strong start. Houshmand’s win added him to the elite company of goofy-footed champions at Bells Beach, joining surfing legends like Mick Occhilupo, Mark Carroll, Michael Hardman, Matt Lynch, Mick Fanning and Filipe Toledo.

Elated by his victory, Houshmand expressed his disbelief, “I’m speechless, this is unreal. I’ve been visualizing this moment for weeks, ringing that Bell, and it actually happened! This win is huge for the rest of the season. My initial goal was to qualify for Fiji as a rookie, but now I have bigger aspirations. The Cut is no longer a concern, and I’m setting my sights on a Championship Tour title. The real season starts now.”

Houshmand’s maiden CT victory propelled him a staggering 18 spots up the rankings, from outside the coveted WSL Final 5 zone to eighth place. This dramatic rise puts him firmly in contention for the year-end championship chase.

California Takes Centre Stage at Bells Beach with Houshmand and Simmers Victories

Caitlin Simmers Steals the Show and Grabs the Lead in World Title Race

The women’s final was another nail-biting encounter, with the winner guaranteed to wear the prestigious yellow jersey as the new World No. 1. Caitlin Simmers and Johanne Defay, placed first and second on the rankings respectively, battled for surfing supremacy.

Dafay, a seasoned CT veteran, entered the final brimming with confidence. She quickly took control, registering two solid scores to establish an early lead. Simmers remained composed, waiting for her opportunity. With just three minutes left on the clock, Simmers seized her chance, scoring a 6.10 on a set wave to climb back into contention.

As the final minute ticked down, Simmers forced Defay into a difficult situation, leaving herself perfectly positioned to catch the final waves rolling in. With seconds remaining, Simmers capitalized on her last opportunity, stringing together a series of impressive maneuvers to earn a score of 6.67. The news of her victory only reached her after the buzzer, leaving her in disbelief.

Simmers’ triumph was nothing short of historic. She became the youngest woman ever to win at Bells Beach, surpassing a record that has stood for years. This victory marked her second CT final appearance this year, having previously claimed the top spot at Stop No. 1 at Pipeline. Simmers now wears the yellow jersey with pride as she heads into the next leg of the competition, the Margaret River Pro in Western Australia.

“On that last wave, I was just thinking, ‘This could be it,’” shared Simmers. “In surfing, self-belief is paramount. These things happen when you believe in yourself. It’s surreal! At this elite level, every surfer needs a competitive edge. There’s so much to consider, and winning here feels amazing. Bells Beach is a challenging wave to master, so this victory is incredibly special. To be ranked number one in the world? That sounds pretty incredible!”

The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach served as a springboard for Californian surfers, showcasing their undeniable talent. Houshmand and Simmers’ captivating performances not only cemented their places amongst surfing’s elite but also injected a surge of excitement into the remainder of the World Surf League Championship Tour.

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