BELLS BEACH, VIC/Australia: Stop No. 3 on the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP Women’s World Championship Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, got underway today on first day of the event window in small punchy waves at the world-famous right hander. The men’s event was put on standby while the world’s best female surfers ran through the six heats of Round 1. The half day of surfing wasn’t short of action and upsets as rookies claimed victory and excellent scores were posted.
Courtney Conlogue (USA) has been one of the most consistent performers of the 2014 ASP Women’s WCT season, finishing in the Quarterfinals in events No. 1 and 2. Today she opened her Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach campaign with a bang, defeating Hawaiian surfers Malia Manuel and Alessa Quizon with a series of fast and powerful wraps and turns. Conlogue will skip Round 2 and advance directly into Round 3.
“I’ve always wanted to ring the bell since I was a little kid,” said Courtney Conlogue. “I remember watching the webcast and thinking about being here and surfing in this event, it’s really a dream come true to be on Tour. There’s been a lot of ups and downs but it’s all a learning experience.”
Multiple Bell-ringer Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) took on Hawaiians Coco Ho and Alana Blanchard in Heat 2. Ho stayed busy through the majority of the Heat, throwing the fins and blending her moves with style. Fitzgibbons, however, fought back in the dying moments to edge ahead and relegate Ho, as well as Blanchard, into the elimination Round 2.
“Every time I walk on those stairs I get goosebumps. You walk into the stadium of Bells and you feel amazing. I was excited to get going but the lulls between sets and not knowing what the sets were going to do made it difficult so the last wave was really important for me,” said Sally Fitzgibbons. “You’re still fighting in Round 2 but it’s always nice to keep the legs fresh and skip a Round”.
ASP WCT Rookie Dimity Stoyle (AUS) came out of the gates firing in Round 1 causing the first major upset of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach by defeating reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion and defending event winner Carissa Moore (HAW). Stoyle blitzed Rincon with an aggressive combination of forehand turns, opening her campaign with an impressive 7.83. Stoyle quickly notched another solid score on the board, stringing together a furious combo for a 7.93, placing Moore and wildcard Zoe Clarke (AUS) on the back foot. Moore battled back with her polished forehand but was unable to build on her 8.87 and will have to surf again in Round 2 along with Clarke.
“I’m so excited to be competing here and I can’t believe I’ve won my first Heat,” said Dimity Stoyle. “I didn’t want to make any mistakes against Carissa (Moore). She’s a Champion so she’s hard to beat. It’s so important to win Round 1. Round 2 is scary and I want to stay on Tour as long as possible and get some good results”.
Heat 4 of Round 1 was an all Rip Curl affair as Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) and teammates Tyler Wright (AUS) and Pauline Ado (FRA) took to the lineup. In the somewhat inconsistent Rincon conditions, it was rookie Victorian Van Dijk who utilized her local knowledge and years of Bells Beach experience to claim her first Heat win of the season. Wright and Ado will have another opportunity in Round 2 while Van Dijk vaults directly to Round 3.
“I feel more at home here at Bells Beach because it’s my home state,” said Nikki Van Dijk. “Some of my friends came down and surprised me today and it was great to feel the support. Having had a wildcard here for the last few years has been really good for me. It’s great to finally move onto Round 3.”
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), five-time ASP Women’s World Champion, managed to buck the trend of the top seeds going down at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach today. Gilmore used her trademark casual and graceful style to secure a Round 1 victory, stealing the lead from rookie Johanne Defay (FRA) in the last five minutes of the half hour encounter, with the young Frenchwoman and Laura Enever (AUS) relegated to Round 2.
“I love it down here at Bells Beach, it’s a very special place,” said Stephanie Gilmore. “It was hard out there today but luckily I was able to utilize priority and pick up one or two good waves. It’s good to get things running and I hope we surf the finals in really good waves”.
Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) took top honors in the last heat of the day, using her lethal backhand attack to send Lakey Peterson (USA) and Paige Hareb (NZL) into Round 2, while the South African moves directly into Round 3. Buitendag is currently ranked equal No. 3 on the ASP Women’s WCT after a stellar start to the season.
“I’ve been coming to Bells Beach for 14 years and it’s one of those landmarks events,” said Bianca Buitendag. “I feel really comfortable here because it’s similar to waves I surf at home. Knowing that I kept my cool during that Heat and was patient has given me confidence for the rest of the competition.”
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.00, Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.03, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 8.50
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.94, Coco Ho (HAW) 11.00, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 4.67
Heat 3: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 15.76, Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.54, Zoe Clarke (AUS) 5.57
Heat 4: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 14.84, Tyler Wright (AUS) 10.94, Pauline Ado (FRA) 10.03
Heat 5: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.33, Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.33, Laura Enever 6.43
Heat 6: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 11.67, Lakey Peterson (USA) 9.43, Paige Hareb (NZL) 6.60
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach Round 1 Match-ups:
Heat 1: Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Zoe Clarke (AUS)
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Heat 5: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 6: Laura Enever (AUS) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
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