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Courtney Conlogue Wins The Women's 2017 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

There is an art to banking scores at Bells. Or rather, a knack. The knack lies in performing to your fullest capabilities while mirroring the subjective opinions of a group of individuals as well. Clearly, it is the second part, satisfying a myriad of perspectives manifested as a group of judges, that presents the difficulties.

As many observed yesterday, the judges favoured rail-heavy, critical approaches. Certainly more so than anything off the tail (See: Josh Kerr’s round two loss to Joan Duru). Should one complement those moves with a deeper drive off the bottom turn as opposed to a quick pivot as well, then advancing to the next round usually isn’t an issue. 

And it was no different today. With a touch more swell filling in at Bells, judges were particularly gracious to those putting power on their rail. Added points for style as well. So, with the day’s scoring criteria set, the Rip Curl Women’s Pro finals matchup between Stephanie Gilmore and Courtney Conlogue makes all the more sense. Here’s the setup: 

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Steph's signature forehand not only complimented Bells' long walls but also was agreeable in the eyes of the judges as well.

Steph’s road to the final consisted of taking down Johanne Defay and Lakey Peterson in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. She started off hot on the day. Picking up a 9.43 and 9.17 in her inaugural confrontation, giving her an 18.60 total that would beat Johanne’s 12.80 to the tune of 5.80 points. Her semifinals meeting with Lakey Peterson was a tad closer, with Steph finishing with just a 4.93 point gap from her opponent. 

Courtney Conlogue one.

Courtney's road to the final was a little tougher, having to take down Nikki Van Dijk, Carissa Moore and Tyler Wright before facing off with Steph.

Courtney’s path, on the other hand, was sprinkled with a bit more anxiety. As the Californian’s opening confrontation with Carissa Moore turned into an all out paddle battle up and down the point. Courtney would eventually push by, grabbing an 8.73 and 7.83, for a combined 16.56. Inching past Carissa’s 15.33 by just 1.23. In her semifinal against Tyler Wright, Courtney failed to catch a wave in the first half of the heat. But, facing a combo situation with ten minutes left, she picked off a set, which she wrapped with jurisdiction before finishing with a very 90s-esque full rotation carve. A ride that resulted in nine point total. With three minutes to go, Courtney followed it up with a 9.33, giving her an 18.33 total off just two waves in the heat that would ultimately be too much for Tyler’s 15.00 final score.

“I was just trying to dig as deep as I could right there,” said Courtney afterwards.

Courtney Conlogue two

Courtney's wave selection would ultimately help her get an edge on Stephanie in the final.

From the start of the final, everything looked to be coming up Steph. As the Australian caught two opening rides that resulted in an 8.33 and 8.00, respectively. And while Courtney did open up with an eight point ride, she fell a bit flat through the middle of the heat. Thankfully for the Californian, Steph was only able to sniff out a 4.23 and a 5.57 after her opening two rides. And with seven minutes left, Courtney took off on a sizable set that she was able to wrap her way into a nine on. With a final score of 17.00 points, Courtney would inch by Steph’s 16.33 by just .67. Just enough to do a repeating ring of the bell.

“I’m speechless,” Courtney told Barton Lynch afterwards. “It was already amazing winning it last year. And to follow it up with a repeat against someone like Steph, who’s won it more than a few times. Actually, a lot of times. It was amazing to compete against her in that final. It was tit-for-tat, every single set that came through either she was on it or I was on it and vice versa. Such a great way to have a final.”

Despite the win, Courtney only moved up to the fourth position on the overall rankings. Steph still holds the top spot and will continue wearing the yellow jersey as she enters the Oi Rio Women’s Pro. The waiting period of which starts May 9.