In a first for the WSL Championship Tour, not one but two surfers paddled out today at Rip Curl Women's Bells Beach Pro wearing the Jeep leader's yellow jersey.
Like the cyclists in the Tour de France, the yellow competition jersey is reserved for the surfer who sits at No. 1 on the elite rankings, with one each for the men's and women's tours. But in a rare instance in surf history, the women's tour currently has a tie for the top spot, between Australians Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons, who each had 16,500 points headed into Bells.
The women essentially swapped wins and losses in the season's two events so far: Gilmore won the first event of the year, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, and took Fitzgibbons down in the Semifinals. At the very next contest, the Drug Aware Pro Margaret River, it was Fitzgibbons who won, after taking down Gilmore in the Semifinals. Sitting at the same spot on the Jeep leaderboard posed an unusual challenge for the commissioners' office. In the end, though, Deputy Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer and the others decided that both Gilmore and Fitzgibbons deserved to wear the color of No. 1.
So far at Bells, both women have won their Round One heats (which means that, yes, they are still tied). If they happen to get pitted against each other down the line, they'll have distinct sleeve colors to differentiate for priority.
Following close behind them is yet another Australian, defending World Champion Tyler Wright, with 13,200 points. Bells, then, should be something of a tie-breaker, and could open up the field for other contenders before the Tour heads to Rio. Catch all three Aussies and the rest of the remaining field when Round Three kicks off.