The women kicked off their competition at Bells with heavy surf and solid windswell, a far cry from a drizzly morning with minimal swell.
The contest heated up when Silvana Lima (BRA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Victoria local Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) paddled out next in the tricky conditions. The heat was something of a rematch for Lima and Fitzgibbons, who last faced off in Round 4 at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast in March. Lima, in her first elite event in a year, eliminated Fitzgibbons, breaking the Aussie's streak of 44 consecutive Quarterfinal (or better) appearances.
This time around, however, it was Fitzgibbons who got the better of the exchange. Despite Lima's jaw-dropping 10-point ride -- her second of the year -- Lima couldn't get past Fitzgibbons' big scores and was relegated to Round 2. Van Dijk's local knowledge, meanwhile, didn't do her any favors among this crowd. She trailed them both throughout.
Current women's Tour leader, and back-to-back Bells winner, Carissa Moore (HAW) was another of the Top 17 in top form. She kicked off Heat 3 with a set wave, looking cool and comfortable in the heavy surf for an 8.33. From there, she proceeded to leave her competitors in the dust: She scored a 9.00 and another eight-pointer to completely sweep the field and advance directly to Round 3.
The afternoon's next big matchup was between Tour rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and six-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS). Alessa Quizon (HAW) was in the mix, but the real battle was between the young grasshopper and the sensei. Like Moore, though, Gilmore's domination was total. Once she found her rhythm, she made it look easy with her signature, sweeping turns, elegant rail work and clean finishes.
The last heat of the day belonged to Lakey Peterson (USA). Coco Ho (HAW) put up a good fight, while Courtney Conlogue (USA) -- who was surprisingly out of rhythm - was combed. Peterson had strong scores, but when she earned a 9.37, it was game over for her opponents.
Catch Round 2 when the action resumes; the next call is at 8:00 a.m. local time Friday, April 3 LIVE at worldsurfleague.com. Plus, get the action to go with the new WSL app.