World Champions dominate opening days of Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
(Photo by Aaron Hughes/World Surf League)

World Champions dominate opening day of Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

The first day of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach kicked off yesterday in sensational style, with classic Bells conditions on offer, delivering clean four-to-six-foot surf for the completion of the men’s and women’s Opening Rounds

The first day of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach kicked off yesterday in sensational style, with classic Bells conditions on offer, delivering clean four-to-six-foot surf for the completion of the men’s and women’s Opening Rounds, as well as the men’s Elimination Round, which saw the event’s first early exits.

Three-time World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) continued his return to form today at Bells Beach, posting the highest two-wave total of the opening day with an excellent 17.33 (out of a possible 20). Medina’s scoreline included a near-perfect 9.33 (out of a possible 10) and came from an explosive display of backside re-entries. It was a shot across the bow of his fellow competitors as he continued to search for his maiden win at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Medina overcame an impressive Liam O’Brien (AUS), who finished in second, as well as 2024 Rookie Cole Houshmand (USA), who narrowly escaped the Elimination Round and will face Medina again in the Round of 32. 

“Bells is one of those events that I haven’t won yet, and I’m looking for it,” Medina said. “There’s just so much history. All my heroes have won here before. I just want it so bad. I’m happy with my performance. I’ve been doing this all week. It’s good to put it all together in a heat. I’m in a good mood. Sometimes, in an athlete’s life, you gotta enjoy when you have a moment because they come and go. It’s a rollercoaster, but right now, I feel really good and happy with my performance.” 

Reigning two-time Bells Beach event winner and three-time World Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) has sent early warning signs to her fellow competitors, banking the highest single score (an excellent 8.00-point ride) and heat total (a 15.17 out of a possible 20) of the opening round. A composed Wright took the win over past event winners Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA). Returning to Australia with momentum after a second-place finish in Portugal, Wright’s powerful open carves are well suited to the Bells walls as she hunts for a dream ‘three-peat’ win at the Rip Curl Pro in 2024.

All eyes were on the water for Heat 3 of the Opening Round, which saw 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) claim his first heat win of the season ahead of two-time World Champion John John Florence (HAW) and Seth Moniz (HAW). Slater showcased his 32 years of experience in what was a slow Bells lineup, making the tactical decision to stay busy, banking over double the number of waves of his competitors.

“It’s 30 years since my first win here and 32 years since my first event here,” said Slater. “It’s good to be back, and you know it would be a real dream for me to book in and try to get my fifth win here again 30 years later. I had to surf against John John straight up. Good way to start the day, just to get the jitters out. You know, I don’t always win heats, but when I do, I try to beat John. Yeah, I mean, it’s probably my last Bells. I’m fine if it’s my last one. Thirty years since my first win here, it’s probably a nice bookend. It will be a bittersweet sadness when I’m not coming back. I’m just trying to enjoy the event; enjoy my time here.”

The call has been made and the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is On with action starting at 8:00 AM Local Time

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