Eight Heats And Five Excellent Waves On The Bells Bowl - Stab Mag

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After nearly losing out first round, Caity looks to collect on her 3rd CT victory. Photo by Aaron Hughes.

Eight Heats And Five Excellent Waves On The Bells Bowl

A brief Easter Sunday repose.

Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Banal conditions today, excusable enough to sneak through a few heats on Easter Sunday.

Bells is a wave lauded for its propensity to offer a canvas for drawing lines — but given a healthy onshore breeze, it becomes a disjointed collection of hopping and skipping between sections. Almost everyone was pumping three, four, five times between turns today, except for Cole Houshmand. 

“I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist today to figure out the second waves are the best,” said Felicity Palmateer. Unfortunately, there weren’t always second waves.

One round, eight heats done, 67 waves ridden, five of them excellent. 

That’s 7.4% — if you were wondering.

“I always loved competing and doing the local contests, and then when I won the US champs at Lowers I feel like that was when I was like ‘Oh, I could probably do this for a living’. Funnily enough, the first QS I ever entered at 14 I ended up winning. But I never thought I would make it to the CT this soon.” – From our interview with Sawyer Photo by Ed Sloane/World Surf League

Women’s Quarterfinals

It is highly unlikely for anything exciting to happen at 2-foot onshore Bells, so the majority of entertainment today was contingent on the minutiae of heat strategy.

“I just tried to get busy and show a bit more of my surfing without waiting too much,” said Johanne Defay, of her effective strategy. Passing too-patient local wildcard Ellie Harrison, Johanne made her first ever semifinal in eight Bells appearances and became the World #1.

In what Caity later called perfect heat strategy, Brisa Hennessey convincingly combo’d Sawyer Lindblad, while Vaughan Blakey reminded us that WSL ad reads don’t have to suck.

Caroline swatted fellow southpaw Tati by virtue of just riding the tallest two waves, and Caity Simmers followed — always anticipated.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a heat where I surf how you’re supposed to do it,” the Toasted Media mogul laughed, while Vaughan Blakey took a knee so as not to dwarf her in the post-win interview. “I’ve never started a heat off well. It’s actually pretty amazing, I dunno why I don’t do that every heat.”

The start she was referring to was the rapid fire 8.5 and 7 that she let off in response to Gabriela Bryan’s 7. Those first two well-connected, steep waves on the bowl carried her into the Semis, where she’ll surf against Caroline Marks. 

Caity’s reward for the heat win was a chocolate Easter Egg. Photo by Ed Sloane/World Surf League

Men’s Quarterfinals

Today’s last four heats saw a trio of surfers jump 9, 10, and 11 places up the rankings from the start of the comp. Matty McGillivray, the first of them, surpassed his close friend Morgan Cibillic by .01.

“Can’t we both just get through?” he chuckled to Laura afterwards. 

To follow was the slowest heat of the day, the highest score, and the biggest upset. On his first wave against Ethan Ewing, Cole Houshmand dropped a 9.07 for damn near perfect backside surfing. “The combination of the patience, the pace, and the placement was excellent,” offered Kaipo.

Cole rode one more mediocre wave, Ethan followed with a six, and then they sat for 30 minutes until the buzzer ran out. 

Three waves ridden, Cole into the semis. 

“You don’t really know if the first exchange is going to matter, we did a bit of hassling and kinda went deep and he let me have it,” said Cole. “The wave just went, I was trying to only look one turn in front of me. After that, sitting for 30 minutes felt like two years out there.”

Cole Houshmand’s 9 had me thinking of when Dane Reynolds once said ‘each wave is one fluid motion.’ Photo by Aaron Hughes/World Surf League

In the most convincing effort, Griffin combo’d Jake Marshall within four minutes— opening with a functional straight air on his first wave and finishing with a flared reverse on his second. 

“The texture and the pace of the wave is so similar to home, it just comes down to finding your lineups, I feel like we’re all pretty comfortable here,” said Griffin, drawing connections between Lowers and the reefs of Torquay.

Unfortunately, Kade Matson looked anything but comfortable against Rio Waida, matching the Indonesian’s self-admitted ‘nervous’ energy. Both fell on routine snaps, but Rio ultimately clicked two foundational scores to leave Kade needing a result at Margs.


Peak performance: Cole Houshmand, Griffin Colapinto
Hit replay: Men’s QF H3
Monster maneuver: Cole’s 9

Rio Waida into 10th on the rankings + Vaughan Deadly as the archduke of the froth kingdom.

Let Downs

Caught behind: Kade Matson
Blind mice: Nah

Though the swell grows larger, the wind looks mighty suspect for the remaining days of the waiting period. Check back in Wed/Thur/Fri.

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