The ASP World Surfing Tour Stop Three: The Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach, Finals Day
It started early, a surprise bump in the swell and offshore winds meant that the event always looked like it would go all the way today.
The Women's Event
The women hit the water first with the semis, and performance levels rose. First up was Carissa Moore and Sally Fitzgibbons. Sally and Carissa have had some mad battles in the last two seasons,with Carissa just edging Sally 10 wins to 8, but she had never beaten her a Bells. But today was to be her day and she picked off the best waves and took the heat, and after a rocky start to this event Carissa was looking like the woman to beat.
In the second semi, Stephanie Gilmore knew she had to step it up to keep up with Carissa in the title race, but Tyler Wright had other ideas. In a high scoring semi Tyler just nailed the heat and set up a final match with Carissa.
The final came down to the first three waves. They both opened up with a 7.50, then both had a throwaway then on one of the sets of the final it came down to two almost identical waves. Carissa threw down an 8.72, Tyler an 8.27, and that was the difference between them. An epic final and now Carssia, who had to surf every round, retained the Bells crown, and sits in pole position for the title.
The Men's Event
The men's event was still wide open. To say the quarter finals were absolutely stacked would be an understatement. Starting with the now classic match up between Adriano De Souza and Taj Burrow. Taj though seems to have the Brazilian's number, and he progressed to the semis.
Next up was the classic old school vs new, the sort of heat the surf media loves. John John Florence up against Kelly Slater, it didn't however turn out to be quite that exciting with John John winning with a couple of mid sixes.
The actual heat of the round turned out to be Julian Wilson and Joel Parkinson, Julian notching up a 17.53 total and booking his place in the semi finals. In the final semi, in a dying swell at Bells Mick Fanning beat Owen Wright.
So to the semis and the event was moved round the corner to the much more consistent Winkipop. In semi one Taj dominated and despite all the new school fervour John john Florence had no answer to the Western Australian's solid turns.
In semi two it was a lot tighter, with arguably the heat of the event. Mick edged out Julian Wilson 18.20 to 17.36, with scores in the excellent range throughout. There was some controversy as it appeared the situation was called incorrectly from the beach miss leading Julian into thinking he needed a smaller score than he did, either way though, even with one last Hail Mary he couldn't take out the world champ.
The final was tight, Mick laid down two good eight point rides with Taj coming back with a nine. But Taj just couldn't back it up, only needing a low seven it looked like he would be ringing the bell, but it just didn't materialise and Mick joined an exclusive club of surfers who have won surfing's oldest event three times.
To see the full world tour rankings check out - www.aspworldtour.com - and get ready for Rio and the next stop in a couple of weeks.