Despite lackluster conditions and underwhelming swell, Mick Fanning rang his second consecutive bell at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Arguably the most coveted trophy is professional surfing, the bell trophy was Fanning’s fourth tying him with Mark Richards and Kelly Slater. Fanning topped Adriano de Souza in the final, but only after a tie-breaking countback – the first in a professional final in the history of the sport.
The last two days of the men’s side of competition at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach was marred by onshore winds and bumpy conditions. But, unlike Snapper, there were overhead sets at the Bell’s Bowl and at high-tide Rincon. The final rounds saw the Jeep ratings leader Filipe Toledo fall in the quarters to Santa Cruz’s Nat Young, who’s powerful backside snaps trumped Toledo’s attempt to find a suitable ramp to launch from.
Adriano de Souza continued his winning form with his searing cutbacks and vert snaps. He crushed fellow Brazilian and World Champ Gabriel Medina in the quarters, and then proceeded to completely smoke Josh Kerr in the semis.
Fanning’s road the final was a tough one as well. Mick took down a raging Jordy Smith in the quarters with better wave selection, and then topped Nat Young in the semis with powerful rail turns and snaps resulting in a pair of 8’s.
Conditions cleaned up a bit for the final as Mick and Adriano paddled out. Both guys ripped so hard a tie seems fitting. But in reality Mick looked a little more powerful and polished. His blow tail maneuver on the 7.10 should have been scored a bit higher considering the other scores the judges gave during the heat. Adriano looked sharp, but did not mix it up enough. He usually soars above the lip, especially in finals. Vert sections were offered to the former Bells champ, but instead of releasing the tail he kept his turns to mere vert snaps. Sure, they were good maneuvers, but you gotta turn it up a notch when in the finals. ADS’s form in the semis and quarters was much more radical.
The results from the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach bumped Mick Fanning up to a tie with Filipe Toledo for the Jeep ratings lead, and Adriano remains at 3rd place with a 3rd and a 2nd in the first two events. Solid! Julian Wilson drops to 4th place after his 13th place finish, and Jordy jumps up 4 spots to 5th place after his quarters appearance at Bells.
The women will commence the final rounds today as Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, Carissa Moore, and Courtney Conlogue take on the rest of the remaining field in tricky conditions. Action starts at 2:00pm PST.
Next stop is the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in Western Australia. The last stop in a three event Aussie leg of the season. Anticipation is high as surf forecasts show a gigantic SW swell set to slam the West Oz coast during the first few days of the waiting period. Some are claiming 30ft faces! Such a big jump in size will undoubtedly offer up a different winner as the last two events were dominated by smaller wave performers. Mick is comfy in the big stuff, so that will definitely give him an advantage over the rest of the top 5.
Check out the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro on April 15th on worldsurfleague.com!
All Photos by WSL Imagery Press Room/Scholtz/Cestari.