BELLS BEACH, Victoria, Australia (Monday, April 11, 2022) – The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, the fourth stop on the World Surf League (WSL) 2022 Championship Tour (CT), kicked off today in wind affected three-to-five foot waves on the Bells Bowl. The competition completed the first eight heats of the men’s Opening Round as the world’s best surfers hit the water at Bells for the first time in three years.
World No. 1 and No. 2 Igarashi and Slater Through to Round of 32
The opening day of the men’s competition saw mixed results for the big names with World No.1 Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and World No. 2 Kelly Slater (USA) both progressing through to the Round of 32, while event wildcard and three-time World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) fell short in his heat.
11-time World Champion Slater was the first to land a wave in Heat 3 against Owen Wright (AUS), who earned the highest score of the heat with a 7.17 (out of a possible 10) on his opening wave. As the swell continued to grow throughout the heat, Wright took advantage and clinched the winning total with his trademark backhand swoops, progressing to the top spot with Salter trailing just behind in the second progressing spot. Nat Young (USA) placed third in the heat and will surf in the Elimination Round when the competition continues.
“It’s nice to see everyone down here,” Slater said. “I know the last few years have been tough and strange for everybody on all sides of the equation, but everybody seems happy to be here and smiling, and we’ve got a little wave which is nice. It’s good to get started and get back to it. This is my 30th year at Bells, my first event here was in 1992 and I got smoked by Tom Curren and finished in equal 31st. It is really good to be back though.”
Current world No.1 Igarashi showed he has no intention of taking his foot off the gas, posting the highest two-wave total of the day with an impressive 16.24 (out of a possible 20) heat total. Igarashi’s power and finesse were a perfect match for the waves on offer as the Olympic Silver medalist sets his sights on his best result at Bells Beach.
“That high score felt really good,” Igarashi said. “I’ve missed Bells so it’s good to be back, see old friends, and just come back to a place that I really love. I struggled with this wave my first years on Tour but I just fell in love with the place over the years while I’ve been trying to master it and today was a classic day on the bowl. Wearing the yellow jersey feels nice, everyone can see me–but seriously though it is an honor to be wearing it and I feel proud to be wearing it. I’ve seen all my heroes wear it and it is confirmation that I’m doing the right thing I guess but it’s only early in the year and I still have a lot of work to do. But this year I want to win the World Title.”
Rookies Pupo, Baker and Robson Upset Big Names
CT rookie Samuel Pupo (BRA) upset the competition with the win over four-time Bells winner Mick Fanning (AUS) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) in Heat 5 of the Opening Round. Pupo started the heat with a bang, posting a 7.50 (out of a possible 10) on his opening wave then backed it up soon after and will advance to the Round of 32 alongside Toledo, while Fanning was relegated to the dreaded Elimination Round.
“I got a lot of confidence from that heat,” Pupo said. “My brother and I spoke before the heat about having a strong start and that I have to get a good one early so when I posted that score on my first wave it felt really good. I’m hoping to carry that confidence into my next round.”
The first men’s Opening Round heat of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach saw Australia’s Callum Robson and Ryan Callinan dominate the heat, sending World No. 5 Seth Moniz (HAW) to the Elimination Round. In a three-to-five foot swell, all surfers struggled to get points on the board early, but last-minute waves from Robson and Callinan solidified their position on the board with Robson taking the top progressing spot.
2019 Bells Beach Winner John John Florence (HAW) faced an all-Australian lineup of Connor O’Leary (AUS) and Jackson Baker (AUS) in Heat 8. World. No 23 Baker, who is right below the new Mid-season cutline, had the highest scoring wave of the heat with a 7.17 (out of a possible 10) to win the heat over Florence by 0.4. This heat sent World No. 15 O’Leary to the Elimination Round.
F1 Drivers Cheer on WSL CT Athletes at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Igarashi, O’Leary, and Isabella Nichols (AUS) have been making the most of their time in Victoria with a visit to the F1 in Melbourne over the weekend. O’Leary and Nichols, who spent time surfing with HAAS F1 driver Mick Schumacher on Friday, swapped the surf for the race track to watch the Australian Grand Prix return to Melbourne for the first time since 2019. Meanwhile, Igarashi cheered on AlphaTauri F1 driver Yuki Tsunoda on his first trip to Australia with F1. Both F1 drivers enjoyed time at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, cheering on Igarashi and O’Leary in their heats today.
For more updates and highlights from today’s competition at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Opening Round 1 (H1-8) Results:
HEAT 1: Callum Robson (AUS) 11.33 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 11.23, Seth Moniz (HAW) 6.73
HEAT 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.83 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.73, Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 8.46
HEAT 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.44 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.04, Nat Young (USA) 8.37
HEAT 4: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.27 DEF. Mikey Wright (AUS) 12.67, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 11.76
HEAT 5: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 13.23 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.23, Mick Fanning (AUS) 6.73
HEAT 6: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 16.24 DEF. Lucca Mesinas (PER) 11.17, Tully Wylie (AUS) 9.36
HEAT 7: Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.33 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.67, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 7.23
HEAT 8: Jackson Baker (AUS) 13.77 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 13.37, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 9.43
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Opening Round 1 (H9-12) Matchups:
HEAT 9: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Joao Chianca (BRA)
HEAT 10: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
HEAT 11: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
HEAT 12: Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Morgan Cibilic (AUS)
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Opening Round 1:
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA), Gabriela Bryan (HAW), Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Isabella Nichols (AUS), Alyssa Spencer (USA)
Heat 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRI), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Molly Picklum (AUS)
Heat 5: Johanne Defay (FRA), India Robinson (AUS), Luana Silva (HAW)
Heat 6: Malia Manuel (HAW), Tyler Wright (AUS), Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW)
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.
The Rip Curl Bells Beach holds a competition window through April 20, 2022. The competition will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com and WSL’s YouTube channel, as well as the free WSL app. Check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners.
The health and safety of our athletes, staff, and the local community are of the utmost importance and we have been working closely with local authorities to put a robust set of procedures in place to keep everyone safe. In accordance with local guidelines, only fully vaccinated individuals are allowed on-site, including spectators, and on-site masks are required when physical distance cannot be maintained.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is proudly supported by our partners Rip Curl, Visit Vic, Red Bull, Shiseido, Oakley, Hydro Flask, Expedia, Surf Coast Shire, TAC, Bond University, Harvey Norman, Bonsoy, Boost Mobile, Oakberry, Dometic, Coopers, FCS, and Pura Vida.
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.