BELLS BEACH, Victoria/AUS (Thursday, March 28, 2013) - The Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford, the third stop on the 2013 ASP Women's World Championship Tour (WCT), commenced competition today with the world's best female surfers lighting up the playful two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves on offer for Round 1.
Carissa Moore (HAW), 20, 2011 ASP Women's World Champion and current ASP WCT No. 2, took top honors today, posting the event's first Perfect 10 as well as the day's high heat total of a near-perfect 19.43 in Round 1 of competition. Moore's powerful forehand and progressive surfing performance wowed spectators and competitors alike, establishing the Hawaiian as a major contender as the event moves forward.
"I had so much fun in that heat," Moore said. "I got great waves, had a lot of opportunity and got to perform. I'm in a really good place. I'm happy and have some really good people in my corner. Last week's win in West Oz gave me some confidence but I'm just really excited to perform and hopefully the waves continue to improve."
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 22, reigning two-time Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach winner and three-time ASP World Runner-Up, continued her love affair with Bells Beach today, posting an excellent 18.07 out of a possible 20 to advance directly through to Round 3 of competition.
"It feels great to be back in Bells," Fitzgibbons said. "There's something about the place - it feels like coming home for me and I love it. That said, there are certainly no easy heats on tour this year. I feel like my surfing has improved every year and I've had to work really hard to maintain the No. 2 spot. I'm motivated by how well the girls perform on tour and it pushes my performance too. The ASP World Title is the goal - it's everyone's goal."
Silvana Lima (BRA), 28, 2009 Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach winner, has returned to the elite ASP Women's WCT following an injury-plagued 2012 which saw the Brazilian sidelined for most of the season. Lima's Round 1 victory today represented a highlight and return to form for the former ASP Women's World Title contender following a relatively anemic start on the Gold Coast and in Western Australia.
"I love Bells Beach," Lima said. "I have a good history here. I haven't had the best start to my season so to come back here and get a win in Round 1 feels really good. My knee feels good and my boards feel strong so I'm very happy to win the heat."
Alana Blanchard (HAW), 22, caused a major upset today, besting reigning five-time ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 25, in Round 1. In her third separate campaign amongst the women's elite field, Blanchard has had a blazing start to 2013 and today's Round 1 win by the current ASP WCT No. 5 continues her momentum this season.
"I'm not really sure what's different this season for me," Blanchard said. "I think I'm a lot more relaxed as far as getting results go. I'm also catching more waves this year and being a little more aggressive in the water. Really excited to get a Round 1 win."
Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), 18, wildcard into the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach, kept the upsets coming today, besting current ASP WCT No. 1 Tyler Wright (AUS), 18, and Malia Manuel (HAW), 19, in a fiercely-fought Round 1 bout and advancing directly to Round 3.
"Tyler (Wright) is such an incredible surfer and she's had such a solid start to the year," Van Dijk said. "To get a win over her, she's the No. 1 surfer in the world right now, is a huge confidence boost. I've been working really hard though so I feel like my surfing is the best it has been. I've had the wildcard into the event for a few years so I feel like I have a lot of experience here in competition. Hopefully that serves me well as the event continues."
Lakey Peterson (USA), 18, closed out the day's action with an impressive Round 1 victory of her own, besting Coco Ho (HAW), 21, and Pauline Ado (FRA), 22, with a solid 17.66 out of a possible 20 for an incredibly-powerful display of forehand surfing.
"Good start to the event for sure," Peterson said. "I didn't feel like I was surfing very well at the beginning but started to build towards the end. I've been watching the heats today and the girls have been surfing really well so I was analyzing what the judges were looking for. Bells is one of those waves where you take what the wave throws at you. Good start though and hope to improve in the coming days."
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 7:30am for a possible 8am start.
When women's competition resumes, up first will be Laura Enever (AUS), 21, and Manuel, 19, in the opening heat of Round 2.
CoastalWatch, official forecasters for the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, have called for: Friday to see SW groundswell, 2 â€“ 4ft early, pulsing to 3 to 5ft at Bells during the morning and easing again during the afternoon.
The 2013 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach will be webcast LIVE via www.live.ripcurl.com and broadcast live on Fuel TV in Australia and Portugal, ESPN in Brazil and MCS Extreme in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland and Africa. You can also watch the event live via the Rip Curl Pro iPhone app, available free in the iTunes App Store.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com