All Aussies eliminated as Rip Curl Pro semi-finals set

March 31, 2024 BY

Griffin Colapinto acknowledges the crowd at Bells Beach - he will surf against Rio Waida for a place in the final. Photo: AARON HUGHES/WSL

AUSTRALIAN surfer Ethan Ewing’s title defence at the Rip Curl Pro has come to a luckless end as the ocean went flat at Bells Beach in his quarter-final loss to Cole Houshmand earlier today (Sunday, March 31).

American Houshmand got off to a flying start, pinching what turned out to be the only excellent wave off Ewing in their Easter Sunday quarter-final and earning a 9.07 score from the judges.

Ewing only had one wave in the 30-minute heat as Houshmand went on to claim a 13.84-6.00 victory.

“You don’t really know sometimes if the first exchange is going to matter,” the 23-year-old Bells debutant said.

“We kind of went deep, I went wide. He let me have it and the wave just went.

“I was only looking one turn in front of me, trying not to get too ahead of myself, and the thing just kept going.

“(Then) sitting out there for that long, 30 minutes felt like two years and I was kind of tripping – but stoked at what went my way.”

Ewing had further cause to rue his luck as the following quarter-final between world No.1 Griffin Colapinto and fellow American Jake Marshall was a high-scoring affair featuring a host of big waves.

But with conditions expected to worsen further as the afternoon wore on, organisers called the action off for the day after the quarter-final stage.

The next call to decide the men’s and women’s titles will be early on Tuesday, April 2.

There won’t be an Australian name carved on either Bells trophy in 2024, after Morgan Cibilic and women’s wildcard Ellie Harrison bowed out at the quarter-final stage along with Ewing.

Instead, the men’s semis will have a decidedly southern Californian flavour, with Colapinto and Houshmand through to the last four along with South African Matthew McGillivray and Indonesia’s Rio Waida.

In the women’s event, local teenager Harrison’s giant-killing run came to an end at the hands of French world No.1 Johanne Defay.

Making her Championship Tour debut, the 18-year-old Harrison had taken down Australian superstars Molly Picklum and Tyler Wright earlier in the competition.

Harrison’s opening effort of 6.93 was the highest single-wave score of the quarter-final, but the experienced Defay did enough to win the overall contest 12.13-10.86.

“It has been the most amazing experience and I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” Harrison, who is from the nearby beachside town of Barwon Heads, said.

“Hopefully I’ll get more opportunities to be here.

“It was a good heat with Johanne; she’s an amazing surfer so it’s not bad to bow out to her.”

With the home crowd willing her on, Harrison took off on one last wave in the dying seconds of her quarter-final.

But it was not big enough to give her the score she needed to overtake Defay, who advanced to the semi-finals at Bells Beach for the first time.

Defay will take on Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy in the semi-finals.

The other semi will be an all-American affair between Caitlin Simmers and reigning world champion Caroline Marks.

Marks edged past Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb 11.94-11.76 and teen sensation Simmers downed Hawaiian Gabriela Bryan 15.50-14.07.

For more information, head to worldsurfleague.com