The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach kicked off yesterday in 3 to 5 foot waves on the Bells Bowl.
The competition completed the first eight heats of the men’s Opening Round as the world’s best surfers hit the water at Bells for the first time in three years.
The opening day of the men’s competition saw mixed results for the big names with World No.1 Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and World No. 2 Kelly Slater (USA) both progressing through to the Round of 32, while event wildcard and three-time World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) fell short in his heat.
South Africans Jordy Smith and Matt McGillivray both came short in their Round 7 heat when they were defeated by Frederico Morais.
11-time World Champion Slater was the first to land a wave in Heat 3 against Owen Wright (AUS), who earned the highest score of the heat with a 7.17 (out of a possible 10) on his opening wave.
As the swell continued to grow throughout the heat, Wright took advantage and clinched the winning total with his trademark backhand swoops, progressing to the top spot with Salter trailing just behind in the second progressing spot.
Nat Young (USA) placed third in the heat and will surf in the Elimination Round when the competition continues.
“It’s good to get started and get back to it. This is my 30th year at Bells, my first event here was in 1992 and I got smoked by Tom Curren and finished in equal 31st. It is really good to be back though,” said Slater after his heat.
Current world No.1 Igarashi showed he has no intention of taking his foot off the gas, posting the highest two-wave total of the day with an impressive 16.24 (out of a possible 20) heat total.
Igarashi’s power and finesse were a perfect match for the waves on offer as the Olympic Silver medalist sets his sights on his best result at Bells Beach.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Opening Round 1 (H1-8) Results:
HEAT 1: Callum Robson (AUS) 11.33 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 11.23, Seth Moniz (HAW) 6.73
HEAT 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.83 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.73, Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 8.46
HEAT 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.44 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.04, Nat Young (USA) 8.37
HEAT 4: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.27 DEF. Mikey Wright (AUS) 12.67, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 11.76
HEAT 5: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 13.23 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.23, Mick Fanning (AUS) 6.73
HEAT 6: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 16.24 DEF. Lucca Mesinas (PER) 11.17, Tully Wylie (AUS) 9.36
HEAT 7: Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.33 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.67, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 7.23
HEAT 8: Jackson Baker (AUS) 13.77 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 13.37, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 9.43
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Opening Round 1 (H9-12) Matchups:
HEAT 9: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Joao Chianca (BRA)
HEAT 10: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
HEAT 11: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
HEAT 12: Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Morgan Cibilic (AUS)
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Opening Round 1:
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA), Gabriela Bryan (HAW), Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Isabella Nichols (AUS), Alyssa Spencer (USA)
Heat 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRI), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Molly Picklum (AUS)
Heat 5: Johanne Defay (FRA), India Robinson (AUS), Luana Silva (HAW)
Heat 6: Malia Manuel (HAW), Tyler Wright (AUS), Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW)
Photo: Jordy Smith carving at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Photo Ed Sloane/World Surf League