Will Bells Hand Kelly His CT Ultimatum? - Stab Mag
John got his juju back today. 16+ points in second gear. Photo by Ed Sloane/World Surf League

Will Bells Hand Kelly His CT Ultimatum?

Day one of Bells sees four 16+ point heats and Robbo take a leaf from the AI playbook.

news // Apr 6, 2023
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Muslims fasting for Ramadan weren’t the only hungry followers today. Religiously, surf enthusiasts tuned into the Woz’s broadcast this morning as Joe Turpel began his welcoming sermon. “If you’ve just joined us you haven’t missed much,” he informed viewers mid-way through heat one, which was both encouraging and disappointing somehow. Kaips looked cold on the jetski, Ronnie looked stunning on the stairs, Rabs looked like he’d been welded to his chair. 

What? It’s prime real estate

To paint the morning’s scene: Squally two-three foot Winki and Ethan Ewing (adorning new Monster claw) is putting a bit of distance between himself and a slightly one-dimensional Nat Young and a wiry looking Carlos Munoz. By this arvo we’re looking at crisp four foot lines rolling in and Steph Gilmore banking 16+ points for her graceful line drawings.


  • Wildcard Xavier Huxtable kicks Slater nearer the edge of CT oblivion here’s what he needs to do to make the cut (step 1 – escape the elimination round)
  • World number #1 Jack Robinson starts heat with straight air into six turns – straight out of AI playbook
  • Owen Wright wins the first heat of his last CT 
  • Kanoa Igarashi, John Florence, Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons go excellent (16+ points)
  • No Box-to-Box in sight – the end of Make or Break?

The top seeds reminded everyone why they are top seeds today. If you wore red, you probably didn’t lose. Ethan Ewing kicked off the trend, stringing together a series of quick crisp turns for a 7 and 7.5, the latter of which buckled his board. With the most bulletproof technique and seamless style in the game, he can drop big scores in second gear which is why he is yours/mine/Stace’s favorite to take this thing out.  

Griffin Colapinto also looked strong this morning, landing multiple big rotations in conditions that saw completion rates way down at the low-tide mark. Ryan Callinan and Owen Wright used a very different brand of well-timed and well-paced backside power surfing to get the job done in the following heats. “That felt great to get a heat win straight off the bat,” said the big O. “I’ve had a bit of time out of the jersey but I felt like I just slipped back into competition mode nicely and felt confident, which was good.”

Heat 6 saw Jack Robinson convincingly rinse Kelly Slater and Xavier Huxtable. Jack’s first turn of the morning was straight out of the AI-playbook, big straighty on the outside section which he followed up with six or so razor-sharp turns. 

The first maneuver Robbo chose today. Mid-way through his heat he got off his board, laid on his back, and just floated looking at the sky for a good 15 seconds. Power move against the GOAT. Photo by Ed Sloane/World Surf League

It seems like an age ago that Jack was monstering the Teahupo’o trials, or putting in standout performances at the Volcom Pipe Pro, all while his small-wave game seemed to stall. Now with four CT wins in the past year, and Leandro Dora, Matt Bemrose and Julia in his corner — Jack kind of looks untouchable. I felt his tongue-in-cheek ‘Wooooooo!’ after Rosy Hodge informed him that he’d made the cut — a completely trite point to make to the person wearing yellow after three events — was the appropriate response. 

John Florence, Gabriel Medina, Kolohe Andino and Kanoa Igarashi all showed signs of their former, better selves after uncharacteristically clumsy starts to their campaigns this season. 

The waves were much bigger and cleaner by the time the women’s opening round started with World #2 Caity Simmers taking on Bettylou Sakura Johnson and Sophie McCulloch (average age of 18). Betty wasted no time in blasting Winki apart with three big turns for an 8 that she paired with a 5.07 to finish as the leader.

Current World No. 1, Molly Picklum was able to secure the W over Macy Callaghan and Johanne Defay with an 8.00 of her own. “Final 5, let’s do this,” she cheered post-heat.

Sally Fitzgibbons was incredible today, throwing away a 7.5 after banking two better scores in the excellent range. “The windscreen wipers have worked, she can see clearly” remarked Rabs, speaking to the smooth, surgical lines she was carving out on the Winki wall as the sun dipped behind Torquay. 

It was a cute boomer metaphor.

A smile that says, ‘________’. (Photo by Beatriz Ryder/World Surf League)


  • Peak performance: John Florence, Kanoa Igarashi and Sally Fitzgibbons
  • Hit replay: Mens (R1H6, R1H11, R1H12), Womens (R1H3, R1H4, R1H5)
  • Monster maneuver: Jackson Baker 7.50 layback R1H9
  • One-liner: “Woooooooo!” – World number #1 Jack Robinson being told he made the cut

The waves went from squally 2-3ft Winki this morning to proper pumping 5-6ft Winki by this afternoon. The wave Steph got an 8.83 for could easily be mistaken for the point at JBay. 

Matty McGillivray surfed the best out of anyone who lost today, sticking multiple big punts in his heat against Joao Chianca and wildcard Dylan Moffat. I felt Joao was overscored on his last wave, a 6, as did the boys in the booth initially. Whatevs, it’s the non-elimination round.

Big fan of the way Dylan Moffat wore his hat in his post-heat interview after beating his CT superiors. Made him look crazy. I like it. 

There’s a good five cm clearance from ear to the bottom hat brim and literally zero outwards force securing it in place. The craziness is in its subtly.

Jackson Baker’s post-heat interview made my eyes swell. Donning all pink to raise awareness for breast cancer that he lost his mother to a few years ago, he told Loz, “I’m not fussed about the cut, I’m just enjoying my time here and I’m really happy to be flying the flag for my Mum and raising awareness for breast cancer”. The wisdom of a swami.

Similarly healthy was Kolohe Andino’s hot take on not making the cut. “I’ve been on tour for so long now people think I’m way older than I am or something,” he laughed. “I will definitely be doing the Challenger with the boys if I don’t make the cut at Margies. Either it’s chilling with Griffin, or chilling with Crosby. Either way I’m cool with that.” 

Jacko was hooning down the line on this one, then he pulled the hand break. Photo by Ed Sloane/World Surf League


  • Caught behind: Carlos Munoz (8.54 heat total), Kelly (9.60 heat total)
  • Blind mice: Joao Chianca’s last minute 6.00 (maybe a tad overscored)

Not much was a let down today, particularly Zeke Lau’s claiming his 3.8 in an attempt to score some extra brownie points after mistiming/bogging every turn on his last wave. That was simply great theater. More gesticulating please. 

“I don’t know how to ring the Bell, but I’ll let you know as soon as I find out,” O Wright told Rosy Hodge. Photo by Ed Sloane/World Surf League


No MOB crew? Rumors have it that the Box-to-Box gang have been missing from the contest site in the past few events. After an amazing season 1, I can’t help but feel Box-to-Box applied the same lipstick to a different pig in season 2 and viewers lost interest. 

Two notable sponsor changes at this event. Seth Moniz has left Wade Tokoro surfboards and joined the Sharpeye team, must have been the Shaper rankings. Ethan Ewing has signed with Monster Energy. 

We’ll have a more extensive industry news piece coming soon. 

Ethan, clawing past Nat Young and Carlos Munoz. Photo by Beatriz Ryder/World Surf League

Gamble Ramble

For the first time all season, and despite a shocking $100 loss with Filipe, Mikey C came out on top of the R1 three-man heats. Is this the sign of great fortune or impending doom? Time will tell.

Men’s R1

  • $50 on Griffin Colapinto at -225 to win $22 WON
  • $20 on R-Cal at +165 to win $33 WON
  • $20 on Matt McGillivray at +365 to win $73 LOST
  • $100 on Filipe Toledo at -200 to win $50 LOST
  • $10 on Xavier Huxtable at +500 to win $50 LOST
  • $20 on Connor O’Leary at +230 to win $46 LOST
  • $20 on Michael Rodrigues at +375 to win $75 WON
  • $20 on Leo Fioravanti at +175 to win $35 LOST
  • $20 on Sammy Pupo at +150 to win $30 WON
  • $20 on Kanoa Igarashi at +300 to win $60 WON
  • $10 on Nat Young at +350 to win $35 LOST

Women’s R1

  • $50 on Caity Simmers at +100 to win $50 LOST
  • $20 on Johanne Defay at +225 to win $45 LOST
  • $200 on Carissa Moore at -170 to win $118  WON
  • $20 on Caroline Marks at +150 to win $30 WON
  • $40 on Gabriela Bryan at +325 to win $130 LOST
  • $50 on Stephanie Gilmore at -115 to win $43 WON

Day 1 earnings: $124
Event earnings: $124

For today:

Women’s R2

$20 on Brisa Hennessy at +165 to win $33
$20 on Johanne Defay at +350 to win $70

Men’s R2

$20 on Liam O’Brien at +200 to win $40
$20 on Barron Mamiya at +230 to win $46
$20 on Connor O’Leary at +125 to win $125
$20 on Ian Gentil at +185 to win $37

Place your bets here.


Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Opening Round Results:
HEAT 1: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.50 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 11.43, Carlos Munoz (CRC) 8.54
HEAT 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 15.66 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 11.03, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 10.37
HEAT 3: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.27 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.94, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.34
HEAT 4: Dylan Moffat (AUS) 12.33 DEF. Joao Chianca (BRA) 11.67, Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 10.84
HEAT 5: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.84 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.24, Ian Gentil (HAW) 10.36
HEAT 6: Jack Robinson (AUS) 12.56 DEF. Xavier Huxtable (AUS) 11.50, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.60
HEAT 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.64 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.80, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 10.00
HEAT 8: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 14.47 DEF. Jordy Smith (RSA) 12.47, Callum Robson (AUS) 11.93
HEAT 9: Jackson Baker (AUS) 13.00 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.37, Rio Waida (INA) 10.60
HEAT 10: Yago Dora (BRA) 13.83 DEF. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 13.67, Jake Marshall (USA) 10.00
HEAT 11: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 16.40 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.00, Liam O’Brien (AUS) 12.43
HEAT 12: John John Florence (HAW) 16.26 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 12.17, Barron Mamiya (HAW) 12.10

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Opening Round Results:
HEAT 1: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 13.07 DEF. Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 11.93, Caitlin Simmers (USA) 11.24
HEAT 2: Molly Picklum (AUS) 13.73 DEF. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 13.50, Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.16
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.33 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.66, Kobie Enright (AUS) 12.57
HEAT 4: Caroline Marks (USA) 15.83 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 13.04, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 9.40
HEAT 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.57 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 13.73, Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.17
HEAT 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.16 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.06, Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 11.50

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Elimination Round Matchups:
HEAT 1: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Liam O’Brien (AUS) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
HEAT 2: Rio Waida (INA) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs. Maxime Huscenot (FRA)
HEAT 3: Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRC)
HEAT 4: Matthew McGillivray (RSA) vs. Ian Gentil (HAW) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Elimination Round Matchups:
HEAT 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) vs. Kobie Enright (AUS)
HEAT 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)


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