Heats set for Bells classic
A FIELD of more than 50 of the world’s top surfers is almost set to contest the return of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
The two-week pro surfing window opens today for a qualifying event with dozens of young Victorian surfers vying for a spot in the main draw.
The Pro event window opens this Sunday, April 10, and closes on April 20. Exact timings of events is dependent on surf conditions.
In the men’s draw, surfers will start in 12 heats of three, with the top two competitors in each earning a spot in the round of 32.
The third-placed surfer in each heat will enter the elimination round, where the last-placed boardrider in each of four heats to drop out of the competition, with the top two advancing.
The event then reverts to two-man heats in a straight knockout format until the final.
The women’s draw follows a similar format but on half the scale; competitors begin in six heats of three, before a two-heat elimination round and head-to-head knockouts from the round of 16.
The final entries to this year’s Bells Beach Pro will go to up-and-coming Victorian surfers and be decided at today’s Surfing Victoria Rip Curl Pro Trials. One spot each is up for grabs in the men’s and women’s events.
Australian legend and four-time Bells winner Mick Fanning caused a stir when the 40-year-old received a wildcard entry into the men’s draw. Fanning has landed alongside Brazilian pair Filipe Toledo and Samuel Pupo in heat five.
Olympic bronze medallist Owen Wright has drawn 11-time world champion Kelly Slater in heat three, while 2019 winner John John Florence will contend with Aussies Connor O’Leary and Jackson Baker in heat eight.
In the women’s draw, defending champion Courtney Conlogue starts in heat one, with her fellow multi-time winners in Sally Fitzgibbons (heat two), Carissa Moore (heat three) and Steph Gilmore (heat four) to follow.
Hometown favourite India Robinson has drawn heat five with Frenchwoman Johanne Defay and Hawaiian competitor Luana Silva.
For locals and visitors hoping to hitch a ride to Bells, the Rip Curl Pro shuttle bus service will run each day during the Easter period from Friday, April 15 to Monday, April 18.
Hourly services will depart Torquay’s Rip Curl store, stopping at Wyndham Resort, The Sands Resort, the Torquay Esplanade bus stop, Bells Beach Art Gallery and Bird Rock Cafe, before arriving at the event site.
WSL will also broadcast the Pro live on its website, YouTube channel and app.