4 April, 2016 4 April, 2016

Matt Wilkinson defeats Jordy Smith to win Rip Curl Pro Bells

Smith Runner-Up to Wilkinson at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

Buitendag Ninth in Women’s Event

Highlights from the final day of competition at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Jordy Smith (ZAF) posted his best result at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach when he finished runner-up to Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in pumping 2 – 3 metre (6 -10 feet) waves at the iconic venue in the Australian State of Victoria on Sunday.

The second stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is the longest-running annual 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).

The final showcased Wilkinson and Smith exchanging 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 at the halfway point. Smith finished with a 14.16 two-wave combined score, but it was not enough to beat Wilkinson’s total of 17.37.

After suffering a string of injuries in 2015, Smith’s performance at Bells puts his WSL Title campaign back on track. Although he experienced an early Round 2 loss at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast last month, he made a major comeback by defeating Australians Adam Melling and Kai Otten, Caio Ibelli (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF) and posting a first victory at Bells over three-time WSL Champion and four-time event winner Mick Fanning (AUS) on his way to the Final.

Jordy Smith (Durban, ZAF) on his way to second place in the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Australia on Sunday ©WSL / Sloane

“Last year I had a back injury and struggled through it, but I am glad to make the Final here today,” Smith said. “This year was a little different for me at Bells. I did not have my expectations so high, and I wanted to put on a good performance and surf my best. I am just trying to put my head down and do the best surfing I can and work as hard as I can.”

The result sees Smith vault to No. 3 on the Jeep rankings heading into the third stop on the Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour – the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro – which starts in Western Australia on Friday 8 April.

Following a win at the opening stop of the season on the Gold Coast, the Wilkinson has gone back-to-back to start the year with today’s emphatic victory and now holds a points total that is more than double his nearest challenger.

“I have been trying to win everywhere, forever and it has never happened, and this year I seem to keep picking up trophies, which is making me feel pretty good,” Wilkinson said, “I am so happy to be at Bells. I’ve been coming down to this event for so long, and I’ve always wanted to win it. I finally got my chance.”

Courtney Conlogue (USA) won the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach on Friday, defeating two-former event winner Sally Fitzgibbons in the Final and taking over the Jeep ranking’s leader’s yellow jersey heading into Margaret River.

Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) caused an upset by relegating six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) to Round 2 in the opening round encounter. But the 22 year-old from Victoria Bay was narrowly outpointed by Alessa Quizon in Round 4 and ended her Bells Beach campaign in ninth place overall, slipping to No. 11 in the rankings.

Highlights from the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach are available at 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

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Remaining Round 5 Results:

Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.50 def. Davey Cathels (AUS) 6.33

Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.80 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 16.33

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

WSL Africa

Contact:            Colin Fitch – Operations Manager

Tel:                   021 534 5738

Email:               cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

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