Goofy Footers Shine And Filipe Toledo Dominates In Round One Of The Rip Curl Pro
All the opening day action from Bells (and Winkipop).
And just like that, the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach is underway. There were a few waiting days. The consequence of an inconvenient weather mass overshadowing Torquay in the earlier parts of the week. Resulting in a dishearteningly short swell period, on top of the already small surf. But, in saying that, there was one brief day of surf that the WSL probably regrets not calling on.
But, that’s all in the past now. Swell is on tap, conditions are clean and lines are drawing out. The top 34 have evacuated from Swell cafe in Jan Juc (the place to go if you want to know what every CT’er eats for breakfast), thrown on their wetsuits and are jogging down Victoria’s most iconic staircase. The webcast is fired up, and we’re digging in. Here’s all the action from round one:
Last year’s event champion, Matt Wilkinson, was in rhythm. Despite the dumpier morning conditions out at Bells. Up against Mick Fanning and Jadson Andre, Wilko tapped into his trusty backhand, swiping from 12 o’clock, to six, back to 12 (and repeat). With a combined 12.73, compared to Mick’s 12.40 and Jadson’s 11.70, Wilko will hopscotch to round three. Fellow Australian screw-foot Owen Wright followed up his Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast finals companion’s performance with his own backside offensive. Taking out Miguel Pupo and Zeke Lau with a combined 14.67, the result of two cushioning scores of a 7.50 and 7.17.
“I think that with it being cold and there not being many opportunities, staying on my board is what helped me win that heat,” Owen said afterwards. “You get two chances out there, and if you fall off, there’s not much you can do.
Gabriel Medina, Stu Kennedy and Leonardo Fioravanti squared off in heat three. Courtesy of pickpocketing a set wave off Stu Kennedy, Gabriel Medina dropped the highest score of the matchup with a 7.97. A healthy backup score to his previous 7.07, resulting in an overall 15.04. Compared to Stu’s combined 12.03 and Leonardo’s 6.17, it was all Medina. Freesurf warrior, Nat Young (seriously, the guy’s been logging the most hours in the water this whole week) kept the dominant goofy footer theme rolling, taking down Kanoa Igarashi and last year’s event runner-up, Jordy Smith, in heat four.
“That was the first round one heat win in awhile,” Nat laughed. “I’ve surfed against Jordy like, four times before this. So it definitely felt good to get him back right there.”
Probably still buzzing off his finals appearance at Margaret River, Kolohe Andino combo’d Jack Freestone and Samuel Pupo into round two oblivion. Dropping a nine-point and 8.17 point score. Keeping the screws tight with a balanced rail and air game, Kolohe’s 17.17 was almost the most impressive performance of the first half of the day. Emphasis on the almost because John John Florence paddled out for heat six afterwards, which went down at Winkipop, where the rest of the day’s action unfolded. John maintained his incredible pace from Margaret River, winning with a combined 17.20. His highest scoring wave, a 9.03, was the calmest cutback to air reverse probably ever seen at Winki.
“I think I got a little over excited there,” John told Strider. “Maybe not the smartest thing. But it worked out so I don’t think I need to change anything. I’m riding the same board as I was at Snapper, really good for these down the line pointbreaks that are quite different from Margaret’s.”
Adriano de Souza downed Joan Duru and Caio Ibelli in heat seven to the tune of a combined 16.20. Four-time bell ringer Kelly Slater put on a clinic afterwards. With a sweet 8.50 start and backup 6.10, Josh Kerr’s collective 12.30 and Ian Gouveia’s ten-point total couldn’t hold the candle to Slater’s 14.60.
“Good way to open up,” Kelly remarked. “Ian was trying to take off on the deep peak and just get his feet on the wax. Josh was sitting wide trying to grab anything that swung outside. And I was just in that sweet middle spot and had a little lineup there. I knew I was in the right spot. Some of those mid-ranged waves are the better rides, and not a lot of people can see that. They hold a line better and are just a bit steeper.”
Michel Bourez and Ethan Ewing put on an exciting head-to-head performance afterwards. Connor O’Leary was there too, but took a backseat with a 2.87 and 6.77. Anyways, Michel and Ethan showcased their rail dexterity, weaving and slashing in every conceivable direction on Winki’s playful dextral walls. It was Michel who would come out with the win, scraping past Ethan’s 14.86 with a 7.17 and 8.03. In the heat following, Adrian Buchan took out Frederico Morais and Joel Parkinson (the first ever round one loss for the three-time Bells champion) with a 14.74, besting Joel’s 12.70 and Frederico’s 11.53.
“We’ve had a couple days to sit around, get organised, climatised,” reflected Ace. “I kinda surfed out here (at Winkipop) early this morning, knowing there’d be a good chance out here with the incoming tide on the bowl. The swell size today lends itself to that high-performance style of surfing as well. Good call to come over here.”
Filipe Toledo put on an absolute performance in the penultimate heat of the day. Launching above the troposphere on a 9.70. Then following it up with a perfect 10 point ride, round one’s sole perfect score. The consequence of converting an inside runner into a hefty combo consisting of an aerial pirouette, to cutback, to another massive straight-grab into orbit. With a combined 19.70, Filipe picked up the highest total heat score of the day and a bypass to round three, leaving Conner Coffin and Bede Durbidge to fight for survival in round two.
“I actually didn’t know my last wave was a 10,” said Filipe. “I was way down the point and couldn’t hear anything. I think my air on the wave before was better, a little higher. The last one was really cool, I didn’t think it was going to be a high score actually because it wasn’t that big of a wave itself. But I did everything I could on it, so that’s probably why I got a 10.”
The day’s excitement wrapped up with Julian Wilson picking up a 16.56 from an 8.93 and 7.63 point duo. Taking down competitors Wiggoly Dantas and Sebastian Zietz in the process.
With swell on tap, there’s sure to be more action from Bells (or Winkipop) on the incoming horizon. So, if you’re thirsting for further Torquay commotion: Just hang tight.
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