Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach Day One Photos And Wrap

Hey wait, these girls are in wetsuits! Alana Blanchard’s frontside bottom turn just isn’t the same when she’s clad head to toe in rubber! Bummer…moving on however, the ladies of the tour surfed yesterday in the opening round of the Rip Curl Pro Women’s Bells Beach and the much-heralded rookie class failed to live up to the hype (except for Sally Fitzgibbons who won her heat) that may or may not have been more about how they look in bikinis…

Melanie Bartels

Melanie Bartels (HAW) rips through round one at the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach. Photo: ASP/Getty Images

Experience Prevails at Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach Round 1

BELLS BEACH, Victoria (Tuesday, April 8, 2009) – The opening day for the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford New Fiesta ran today in contestable two-to-three foot (1 metre) surf up at Rincon with the experienced competitors advancing out of Round 1.

Event No. 2 of 8 on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Rip Curl Women’s Pro played witness to some stylish surfing and smart heat tactics, with five of the six Round 1 heats won by ASP World Champions.

Chelsea Hedges (AUS), 25, former ASP Women’s World Champion (2005) and back from a year’s sabbatical, posted an impressive heat total of a 15.40 out of a possible 20, dissecting the running righthanders with speed and flow.

“Rincon is good fun and such a tricky wave and different to the Gold Coast,” Hedges said. “There is no real defined lip. You have to find the sections and really have to work to get through sections. When you get an open face, it is good and you have to try and get those ones that link right through.”

Layne Beachley (AUS), 37, former seven-times ASP Women’s World Champion and semi-retired from full-time competition, has returned to Bells Beach and returned to form, defeating Rosanne Hodge (ZAF), 21, and Paige Hareb (NZL), 18, with the highest heat total of the day, a 15.57 out of a possible 20.

“I wouldn’t say it was easy but it was a lot of fun,” Beachley said. “I feel like I am more observing and watching the youngsters and drawing inspiration from them. I’ve always still wanted to be a part of it so I guess I am slowly just weaning myself off competitive surfing.”

Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18, former ASP World Junior Champion and last year’s winner of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), suffered an early elimination in the opening event of the season, but dominated today’s Round 1 heat over Amee Donohoe (AUS), 28, and Rebecca Woods (AUS), 24.

“The season so far has been really fun but there is definitely a big difference between being in the WQS and being on the ASP Women’s World Tour,” Fitzgibbons said. “It is great to be down here at Bells, it is one of my favorite spots to come so I am looking forward to find a rhythm and having fun.”

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 21, reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion and two-time defending Rip Curl Women’s Pro Champion, comfortably won her opening round heat today, defeating 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Bruna Schmitz (BRA), 18, and Trials Winner Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), 14.

“It feels good to get a good start,” Gilmore said. “You really had to work to get the points you needed to get out of each wave so it was a little tiring but it feels good.”

Swellnet, official foreers for the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, are calling for a decrease in surf over the next couple of days before tracking a swell for the weekend.

Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 7am for a possible 7:30am call.

Highlights from today’s Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach pres. by Ford New Fiesta are available via

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Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.67, Amee Donohoe (AUS) 10.77, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.30
Heat 2: Layne Beachley (AUS) 14.33, Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 8.50, Paige Hareb (NZL) 6.33
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.60, Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 11.50, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 9.50
Heat 4: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 15.40, Silvana Lima (BRA) 14.84, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 10.97
Heat 5: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 13.83, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 10.54, Coco Ho (HAW) 10.33
Heat 6: Samantha Cornish (AUS) 9.80, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 9.60, Melanie Bartels (HAW) 8.33

Heat 1: Melanie Bartels (HAW), Coco Ho (HAW), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Heat 2: Rebecca Woods (AUS), Paige Hareb (NZL), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)

Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Mick Campbell (AUS)
Heat 2: Chris Ward (USA) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 3: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Tim Boal (FRA)
Heat 7: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Adam Robertson (AUS)
Heat 10: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Jihad Khodr (BRA)
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 12: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
Heat 13: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Jay Thompson (AUS)
Heat 14: Tim Reyes (USA) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 15: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Dean Morrison (AUS)
Heat 16: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. David Weare (ZAF)