BELLS BEACH, Victoria, Australia (Wednesday, March 29, 2023) – The pressure is building for the world’s best surfers as they head into the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy, Stop No. 4 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT). Bells Beach and the Western Australia Margaret River Pro are the last two events for surfers to accumulate points and secure themselves above the Mid-season Cut line.
The first three events of the season have drastically changed the world rankings. Surf fans are witnessing a potential changing of the guard as rookies are outperforming Tour veterans, and World Champions are finding themselves in danger of being cut. The deep surf history of Bells Beach, combined with the pressure of the fast-approaching Mid-season Cut, makes getting a win and ringing “The Bell” one of the great honors in the sport.
About the Venue: The Historic Bells Beach
This year marks the 60th edition of the iconic Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, one of the sport’s longest-running events. With both the breaks, the Bells Bowl and Winkipop, offering high-performance, long rights, Bells will be a test of power and rail-to-rail surfing.
Many World Champions have earned notable wins at Bells, including last year’s event winners, Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Tyler Wright (AUS). The list of previous event winners consists of names of some of the best in the game, including World Champions Kelly Slater (USA), Lisa Andersen (USA), Sunny Garcia (HAW), Carissa Moore (HAW), Andy Irons (HAW), Mick Fanning(AUS), Layne Beachley (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Stephanie Gilmore(AUS), and John John Florence (HAW).
Bells Beach is not only one of the most hallowed grounds in surfing, it is a place of cultural significance to the Wadawurrung People, traditionally known as Djarrak. To honor and respect the local community, every year, The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach begins with a traditional Welcome to Country and concludes with Wadawurrung representatives presenting the winners’ trophies.
Jack Robinson and Molly Picklum Lead Rankings, World Champions Below Mid-season Cut Line
Australia will be strongly represented by current World No. 1s Jack Robinsonand Molly Picklum who will proudly wear the yellow Leader jersey at Bells Beach. Five-time World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) is hot on Picklum’s heels and will be eager to take the rankings lead back. Rookie Caitlin Simmers (USA) and sophomore Joao Chianca (BRA) are fresh off their wins at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal and hope to maintain that winning momentum going into this critical event.
With the Mid-season Cut quickly approaching, some of the top seeds are finding themselves in danger. Reigning 8X World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) is hoping for another incredible come-back story this year as she is currently below the Mid-season Cut line. Final 5 competitor Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) is right on the cusp of the Cut line in the 24th spot, with 11X World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) right below him. They all will need solid finishes here at Bells in order to continue through the second half of the season.
Injury Replacements and Wildcards, Including Owen Wright Announced
Owen Wright (AUS) has announced he will retire from competitive surfing following Bells Beach. Wright will wear the CT jersey for the last time as a wildcard, allowing him to celebrate his amazing competitive career amongst friends, family, and the surfing world. As a fixture on the CT for over a decade, Wright’s decision to retire comes after careful consideration and consultation with his family, coaches, and medical team. While he will no longer compete, he will continue pursuing his passion for surfing.
The winners of the women’s and men’s trials will receive the additional wildcards into the event.
Johanne Defay (FRA) will make her first CT appearance of the year as she has recovered from an injury that kept her away from competing in the first three events of the season. Dylan Moffat (AUS), the highest-rated Challenger Series surfer from Australia, will replace Jadson Andre (BRA). Carlos Munoz (CRC) will once again be the injury replacement for Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR).
Pictured: 3X World Champion Tom Curren (USA) will face World Champion Mark Occhilupo (AUS) in the Heritage Heat during the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Event Window. Credit: © WSL / Cestari
Heritage Heat Featuring WSL Legends Tom Curren vs. Mark Occhilupo Announced
Two of the sport’s most influential surfers, Tom Curren (USA) and Mark “Occy” Occhilupo (AUS) will compete at Bells in a special Heritage Heat during the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach event window. Curren, a regular foot known for his style, and Occy, a goofy foot known for his power, have long been intertwined in one of the sport’s most famous rivalries. Over their careers, Curren has earned two wins at Bells and three World Titles, while Occy has one of each. Curren took the win at their Heritage Heat matchup at J-Bay in 2014. But, Occy emerged victorious in their most recent Heritage Heat at Bells in 2019. Surf fans will now witness the legacy continue as the two face each other at Bells once again.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Opening Round Matchups:
Heat 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
Heat 2: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Event Wildcard
Heat 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
Heat 5: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Opening Round Matchups:
Heat 1: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRC)
Heat 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Maxime Huscenot (FRA)
Heat 3: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 4: Joao Chianca (BRA) vs. Matthew McGillivray (RSA) vs. Dylan Moffat (AUS)
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Ian Gentil (HAW) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
Heat 6: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Event Wildcard
Heat 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 8: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (RSA) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 9: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Rio Waida (INA) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
Heat 10: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)
Heat 11: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Liam O’Brien (AUS)
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW)
More available at WorldSurfLeague.com.