Matt Wilkinson and Jordy Smith Final, celebrations and podium,Mick Fanning 3rd, Michel Bourez (French Polynesia) =5th, Conner Coffin and Nat Young (USA/Cal) =5th, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) =5th
Wilkinson Claims Victory at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Back-to-Back CT Wins, Gold Coast and Bells Beach, for Jeep WSL Frontrunner
Fanning Steps Away from Competition for Indeterminate Amount of Time
More at WorldSurfLeague.com
BELLS BEACH, Victoria/AUS (Sunday, April 3, 2016) – Matt Wilkinson (AUS) has won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach today, utilizing his electric backhand to best fellow Finalist Jordy Smith (ZAF) in solid six-to-eight foot (2 – 2.5 metre) waves at the iconic venue in the Australian State of Victoria.
The second stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is the longest-running professional surf event in the world and today proved nothing short of historic with Wilkinson’s victory being the first for a goofy-footer at Bells Beach in 17 years (last won by Mark Occhilupo in 1998).
Following a win at the opening stop of the season on the Gold Coast, the young Australian has gone back-to-back to start the year with today’s emphatic victory. Holding a stunning lead on the rest of the field, Wilkinson will spearhead the world’s best surfers at the next stop on the CT, the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, this coming week.
Today’s Final match-up witnessed Wilkinson and Smith exchange huge scores as each battled to hold the lead. Wilkinson unleashed his strong backhand to deliver vertical snaps, earning him a 9.20 and an 8.17, challenging Smith to find two new scores halfway through the Final. Smith finished with a 14.16 two-wave combined score, but it was not enough to beat the Australian’s 17.37 combined score.
After suffering a string of injuries in 2015, Smith’s performance at Bells puts his Title campaign back on track. Although Smith experienced an early Round 2 loss at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, he made a major comeback by taking out major CT heavyweights to earn a second place at Bells Beach.
The second Semifinal witnessed an all out clash between Smith and Mick Fanning (AUS), three-time WSL Champion and four-time event winner. Fanning and Smith went wave-for-wave, but it was Smith who challenged Fanning with a 17.17. Fanning was not able to lock in a solid completion on his massive finishing moves and will end his run at Bells Beach with a 3rd place finish. Fanning has stated that 2016 will be a ‘personal year’ for him, and he will take some time off following this event.
Wilkinson blazed through Semifinal 1 against Italo Ferreira (BRA), the 2015 WSL Rookie of the Year, in Semifinal 1. Wilkinson dropped a 17.27 two-wave combined score, including a huge 9.27, leaving Ferreira in a combination situation for the majority of the heat. Ferreira will end his run with his highest finish at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach event.
Smith took out Michel Bourez (PYF) in the last heat of the Quarterfinals. Smith gained an early lead against Bourez with a 9.27. Both competitors earned high scoring rides throughout the heat, but Smith’s 17.77 two-wave combined score edged out Bourez’s 17.26, giving Smith the slight 0.51 lead to enter the Semifinals.
Fanning narrowly defeated 2016 WSL rookie Conner Coffin (USA) in this morning’s Quarterfinal match-up. Fanning faced much adversity with a tweaked back from his earlier heat and a broken board halfway through, but was able to eliminate Coffin by only 0.73 points. Coffin threw up major scores to earn him a 16.17 two-wave combined score, but it was not enough to beat Fanning.
Despite the loss, Coffin heads to Margaret River as No. 2 on the Jeep WSL Rankings.
2016 WSL rookies Davey Cathels (AUS) and Caio Ibelli (BRA) were eliminated from the competition in Round 5 by Mick Fanning (AUS) and Jordy Smith (ZAF), respectively.
The next stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour will be the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro from April 8 – 19, 2016.
For more information, log onto WorldSurfLeague.com
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Final Results:
1 – Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 17.37
2 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.16
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 17.27 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.40
SF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.17 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.90
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.30 def. Nat Young (USA) 12.33
QF 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.26 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 12.00
QF 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.90 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 16.17
QF 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.77 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.26
2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Top 5 (after Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach):
1. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 20,000 pts
2. Conner Coffin (USA) 9,200 pts
3. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8,500 pts
3. Kolohe Andino (USA) 8,500 pts
5. Mick Fanning (AUS) 8,250 pts
5. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 8,250 pts
5. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 8,250 pts