AI Back On Track At Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach 2010

A Lethal Andy Irons (above) Back In Form At Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 1

BELLS BEACH, Victoria/Australia (Saturday, April 3, 2010) – The opening 10 Round 1 heats of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by SNICKERS were completed this afternoon, and despite the shifty two-to-three foot (1 metre) peaks on offer at Rincon, the world’s best surfers unleashed a barrage of high-performance talent.

Watch The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Live At live.ripcurl.com

Event No. 2 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach finally commenced competition today after the completion of the women’s event (won by reigning three-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 22). After being put on hold for four and a half days, the greatest assemblage of surfing talent in ASP history injected a fury of hi-fi surfing into Bells Beach.

Andy Irons (HAW), 31, former three-time ASP World Champion, saw a ferocious return to form today, besting new school phenom Dane Reynolds (USA), 24, and 2010 ASP Dream Tour rookie Nate Yeomans (USA), 28, in the opening heat of competition.

“It feels great it’s been a long week of just getting up early like a fire drill but it’s just something I do here,” Irons said. “I want to be ready for that and having Dane (Reynolds) and Nate (Yeomans), I really respect their surfing. Dane is one of my favourite guys to watch and to get a win over him it feels awesome.”

Taking a year-long sabbatical from full-time competition in 2009, Irons returned to the singlet in the opening event on the Gold Coast, finishing equal 17th. Clearly unhappy with his performance at the season-opener, a rejuvenated and explosive Irons turned up at Bells Beach today, dominated the shifting righthanders to the tune of 14.17 out of a possible 20.

“I had to go back into training and get my boards dialed in and now I’m way more motivated for this contest.”—Andy Irons

“The ASP gave me the opportunity to take last year off and I took it,” Irons said. “It’s an amazing job, but surfers do get burnt out and it did happen to me. I really got to have a little time off, watch the contests from home and I realised how much I missed it. To be out at Snapper and see how good the surfing came up in the last year and a half, I had to go back into training and get my boards dialed in and now I’m way more motivated for this contest.”

A former two-time winner at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, Irons has amassed an impressive 19 elite tour victories, and will be eyeing No. 20 at the Rip Curl Pro.

“It’s always that one extra,” Irons said. “I’d love to get 20, but I’m pretty proud of my 19. I’m going to try my hardest to get another one.”

Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, defending Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach winner and 2009 ASP World Runner-Up, navigated the late afternoon conditions beautifully, posting the day’s high heat total of a 16.00 out of a possible 20. Despite being the defending champ, Parkinson remains calm and collected heading into the remainder of the event.

“I don’t feel any pressure as there’s been a lot of events since then,” Parkinson said. “I definitely appreciate the confidence that I have from winning last year. In these conditions, you just try to survive your heat, do what you can and hope the opportunity comes to you and that would do enough to win.”

Adriano de Souza (BRA), 23, was the standout of the round this afternoon, executing a series of powerful turns and progressive aerials to net an impressive 15.07 out of a possible 20 to advance directly into Round 3.

“I feel great,” De Souza said. “First heat here at Bells and I win it, so I’m really proud because I came to work on this event two weeks before the start. I wanted to have a good heat in the beginning. The conditions are not really good, but I’m proud of my surfing and my boards are working really good as well, so I’ll just keep going and hope that this event is going to put me in the Top 5 again.”

Kelly Slater (USA), 38, former nine-time ASP World Champion, is surfing with renewed fervour this season, easily winning his opening Round heat at Bells Beach. The iconic Floridian has been characteristically guarded when discussing his plans for the season, but the potential to clinch an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title is a motivation.

“Obviously didn’t get the result I was looking for on the Gold Coast but it’s a long year ahead,” Slater said. “I’m taking it event by event, but the title is always the goal. We’ll see how it pans out.”

Also claiming Round 1 victories today were reigning two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, current ASP World No. 1 Taj Burrow (AUS), 31, among others.

Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:30am to assess conditions for a possible 8am start.

When competition resumes, up first will be Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 24, and Jay Thompson (AUS), 27, in Heat 11 of Round 1.

Highlights from today’s Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by SNICKERS will be available via www.live.ripcurl.com

For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com

RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.33, Dane Reynolds (USA) 8.56, Nate Yeomans (USA) 8.40
Heat 2: Luke Stedman (AUS) 12.66, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 9.77, Damien Hobgood (USA) 7.84
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.50, Bobby Martinez (USA) 10.43, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 7.73
Heat 4: Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.60, Travis Logie (ZAF) 5.73, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4.83
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.00, Marco Polo (BRA) 8.16, Mick Campbell (AUS) 7.84
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.07, Blake Thornton (AUS) 11.56, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 10.77
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.26, Daniel Ross (AUS) 13.27, Neco Padaratz (BRA) 9.13
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.73, Kai Otton (AUS) 11.23, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 12.00
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.00, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.33, Chris Davidson (AUS) 8.83
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.56, Adam Robertson (AUS) 11.97, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.50

REMAINING RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Jay Thompson (AUS)
Heat 12: Taylor Knox (USA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 13: Tom Whitaker (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Brett Simpson (AUS)
Heat 14: Kieren Perrow (AUS), Ben Dunn (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 15: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Owen Wright (AUS), Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 16: Dean Morrison (AUS), Luke Munro (AUS), Roy Powers (HAW)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach pres. by SNICKERS
Stop No. 2 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour
Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach pres. by Ford Fiesta
Stop No. 2 of 9 on the 2010 ASP Women’s World Tour
Bells Beach, Torquay, Victoria, Australia
March 30 – April 10, 2010