The surfing world will now turn its attention to Australia for the start of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Presented by Bonsoy, Stop No. 4 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT). The 60th edition of this iconic competition opens tomorrow, April 4, and holds a waiting period through April 14, 2023.
With the top five men on the rankings officially locking in spots above the Mid-season Cut, and only two events left to accumulate points, competition will be at all-time levels. Everyone wants to add their name to the list of legends who have won this prestigious event, but only two will emerge victorious.
Current Top 5 Men Confirmed to Make Mid-season Cut
The pressure of making the Mid-season Cut is off for the current Top 5 men, who are confirmed to have claimed a spot in the second half of the season. Jack Robinson (AUS), Joao Chianca (BRA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), and Griffin Colapinto (USA) will go into Bells with the added confidence of knowing they are safe as their competitors scramble to gather enough points to join them in the continued race for the World Title.
“I’m enjoying being back in Australia, and I got the tingles this morning at the opening ceremony,” said Robinson. “I’m just taking it one step at a time, like going down the stairs at Bells. I feel like last year there was so much going on, it was a new position for me. I’m just focused on my path now. These guys I’m competing against push me and bring the best out of me. I’m excited.”
Current No. 5 on the rankings, Colapinto, recently watched his brother Crosby Colapinto (USA) take the win at the BTMI Barbados Surf Pro Challenger Series event and hopes to build off that winning momentum at Bells.
“I’m really happy to see him doing well, and hopefully, we can both be doing well at the same time,” said Colapinto. “I’ve only surfed in contests two years out here, but I think Bells really suits my surfing. I need to learn what waves to catch and where to sit, but if I get the bell, that means I’ll have it solved.”
On the women’s side, the points are too close for anyone to be confirmed to have made the Cut yet, and the race is intensifying. Molly Picklum (AUS) and rookie Caitlin Simmers (USA) relish in their newfound success at the top of the rankings but also feel the extra weight of that position.
“Having the number one next to your name definitely adds pressure,” said Picklum. “I’m glad I get to enjoy this and embrace the busyness that comes with being number one. It’s all so good, I’m soaking it up and enjoying my time at Bells.”
“It’s been a lot the last few months but it feels good,” said Simmers. “I feel more comfortable in a wetsuit, and the weather here is similar to where I’m from in California.”
Last year’s event winners and World Champions Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Tyler Wright (AUS) have won many events throughout their careers, but both stated how important winning the Bell is to them.
“I’m really happy to be back. We all love Bells; it’s really special and one of the most iconic events,” said Toledo. “It’s a little less than a World Title, but ringing the Bell is the same feeling. Normally when you win a World Title, you have a slow year and take your foot off the gas, but that was not the goal for me. I’m enjoying the process again this year. I put everything I have into this. I want my family to be happy and have a good future for my family. I’m just doing what I love to do, which is surfing.”
“I’ve won World Titles, but it’s nothing like winning at home at Bells,” said Wright. “It’s special to have my family here. We’ve been coming here for a long time, so it’s really fitting for Owen (Wright) to finish his career here. It’s really special to slow it down and enjoy it all, and I’m excited to see Owen compete.”
Tour veteran and event wildcard Owen Wright (AUS) also hopes to have that special feeling of “ringing the Bell” as he has decided to make the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach his final Championship Tour event appearance before retiring from competition. Having competed at Bells Beach at all levels for over 20 years, Wright hopes to make his last event here his most successful, as he continues to search for his maiden victory at the Rip Curl Pro.
“I couldn’t see it any other way,” said Wright. “I was here last year for Tyler’s (Wright) win, one of the biggest of her career. It’s a special thing for us, we make the pilgrimage here every year. The whole family is here and I’ll cherish this forever. I’ve had a career with a lot of up-and-down moments and had some time to reflect on what a wild journey this tour is. All the glimpses are going to be flashing through my mind as I paddle out at Bells.”
Rip Curl team riders Xavier Huxtable (AUS) and Kobie Enright (AUS) have claimed spots in the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach after winning the trials event, which ran over the weekend. This event will be the second time competing at Bells at the CT level for both competitors. Returning this year with more experience, they are sure to be threats to the world’s best.
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. Kobie Enright (AUS)
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. Xavier Huxtable (AUS)
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.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach will open on April 4 and holds a competition window through April 14, 2023. Once called ON, the competition will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL’s YouTube channel, and the free WSL app. Check out more ways to watch from the WSL’s broadcast partners. For fans watching in Brazil, coverage of the competition’s Quarterfinals and beyond will continue exclusively on WorldSurfLeague.com and SporTV.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is proudly supported by Rip Curl, Bonsoy, Shiseido, Red Bull, YETI, Surfline, True Surf, Hydralyte, Visit Victoria, Surf Coast Shire, Boost Mobile, Harvey Norman, Bond University, Oakberry, Coopers, GWM, Bailey Ladders, Bioglan, and Apple TV.
More available at WorldSurfLeague.com.