Tully Wylie, Ellie Harrison And George Pittar Earn Their Spot In The Main Event After A Full Day Of Action At The Rip Curl Pro Trials

Published on 24/03/2024

After a full day of high-performance action Tully Wylie, Ellie Harrison, and George Pittar earned their spots in the prestigious Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

The stage was set for the Rip Curl Trials as the event was moved to the secondary location of Winkipop, just around the corner from Bells Beach. The pivotal event saw the victors in the Open Men’s, Women’s, and Rip Curl division secure the coveted spots in the main event. As anticipation built, surfers from across Victoria and beyond geared up to showcase their talent in the pursuit of the wildcard spots.

The women’s final started off with a flurry of waves with all surfers locking in a variety of minor scores, giving anyone the chance to leap into first place. Taking advantage of the situation was Anon Matsuoka (Japan), who utilized her critical backhand attack to score a 6.83-point ride. 

Shortly after, both Carly Shanahan (Torquay) and Ellie Harrison (Barwon Heads) found their footing, with Harrison getting the better of the exchange, scoring a 7.43-point ride. Ava Holland (Mornington Peninsula) also put her name in the mix with a 4.33 for a series of backhand maneuvers. This put all surfers in a close position to take the lead off Matsuoka, who had the only substantial backup score to maintain first place. 

Going into the last few minutes of the final Harrison, only needing a 3.80, strategically paddled into the inside of the bank to catch a wave underneath the priority of Matsuoka and went back-to-back on multiple forehand snaps to earn herself a 5.20 and the victory. This last-minute tactical decision earned Harrison the wildcard into the women’s draw at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

“I never lost belief, but I was definitely scared and nervous about not getting the score on the final wave,” stated Harrison. 

“This win means the world to me; it’s a dream come true and a big goal ticked off for me,” she added.

“I just can’t wait to show what I can do surfing against the world’s best!” 

Placing in second was Matsuoka, with Holland and Shanahan placing third and fourth, respectively.

On the men’s side of the competition, the final started off with huge scores as long-time rivals and mates, Tully Wylie (Jan Juc) and Xavier Huxtable (Jan Juc), started the heat off strong. 

Huxtable continued his impeccable form from the earlier rounds, laying into a powerful carve and a spectacular layback to secure a 7.10-point ride. However, it was Wylie who just got the upper hand as he went upside down on a multitude of backhand snaps to score a 7.33. 

Not wanting to let go of the lead, Wylie made sure to get back out the back quickly to get onto another scoring ride. It didn’t take him long to spot a long-running set wave that allowed him to put together a series of solid backhand re-entries. This wave earned him an excellent 8.43-point ride. 

Huxtable spent the rest of the heat trying to claw his way to the lead; however, Wylie dealt the final blow with another excellent ride, an 8.03-point ride, for three massive hits. This gave Wylie his second wildcard into the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

“It feels incredible to get the wildcard again as it’s such a hard field of surfers,” exclaimed Wylie. 

“The forecast for the first few days of the waiting period is looking solid, and that’s my perfect conditions, so I’m so excited to see what that brings,” he continued. 

“Xav and I don’t really know it, but we kind of got a crazy rivalry going on now, so I’m stoked to win, and I can’t wait for next week.”

Huxtable finished in second place, with Todd Rosewall (Jan Juc) and Willis Droomer (Jan Juc) coming in third and fourth, respectively.

Also drawing the crowd’s attention was the Rip Curl Men’s trials, which put some of Rip Curl’s best athletes up against each other for another wildcard into the main event. 

The final saw George Pittar (Manly, NSW) battle it out against Dylan Moffat (North Narrabeen, NSW), with Pittar starting off the final with great wave selection. His first ride, an 8.17-point ride, saw him belt three massive turns on one of the larger set waves of the day. Backing this score up quickly, Pittar picked up a 7.77-point ride and the early lead.

Last year’s Rip Curl wildcard, Moffat, wasn’t going to let Pittar win that easily as he laid his rail into a variety of strong carves before sliding the tail out to finish. The judges rewarded Moffat with an 8.67, which gave him the confidence to back it up with a 7.80-point ride and take the lead going into the last few minutes of the final.

Pittar was then eager to get back into first place, planting his foot into an enormous carve and then speeding down the line into a fast tail slide to finish. This gave him the highest score of the final, an 8.73-point ride, and the victory over Moffat.

“It was pretty sick going back and forth in the final with Dyl as he’s one of my good mates,” said Pittar. 

“It means everything to get into the Rip Curl Pro as growing up it’s been the main CT I’ve wanted to do,” he continued.

“To finally be in the comp is surreal; it’s a pretty crazy feeling and I’m stoked and looking forward to it!”

The waiting period for The Rip Curl Pro, presented by Bonsoy, begins Tuesday 26th March and concludes Friday 5th April.

Trials results and scores can be found via www.surfingvic.com/live and further information on the Rip Curl Pro can be found via www.surfingvic.com/rip-curl-pro

The Rip Curl Pro Trials is presented by Visit Victoria and supported by the World Surf League, Rip Curl and Surfing Victoria.

Finals Results:

Open Womens
1st – Ellie Harrison (Barwon Heads), 12.63
2nd – Anon Matsuoka (Japan), 11.23
3rd – Ava Holland (Mornington Peninsula), 10.03
4th – Carly Shanahan (Torquay), 9.20

Open Mens
1st – Tully Wylie (Jan Juc), 16.46
2nd – Xavier Huxtable (Jan Juc), 13.93
3rd – Todd Rosewall (Jan Juc), 10.50
4th – Willis Droomer (Jan Juc), 10.27

Rip Curl Mens
1st – George Pittar (Manly, NSW), 16.90 
2nd – Dylan Moffat (North Narrabeen, NSW), 16.47

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