(Reuters) – Australia’s twice world champion Tyler Wright crushed ratings leader Carissa Moore of Hawaii to win the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach on Sunday, capping a dominant week at the famed point break to ring the bell for the first time.
Brazil’s Filipe Toledo claimed the men’s event, putting on a clinic of aerials and razor sharp turns to beat Australian rookie Callum Robson.
Wright got off to a dream start against the reigning world and Olympic champion with an 8.93 out of 10 for a series of critical turns. She followed up with another excellent score that Moore never came close to matching.
“There’ve been so many times I wanted to give up on getting back to this sort of form. It’s taken all of me and really feel that right now,” said Wright, who is coming back after two years of injury and illness.
Toledo, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Saturday, won his first Bell’s event and took the lead for 2022 tour rankings.
“It’s always been a dream to win this event – so much history, so many special names on the stairs,” Toledo said.
In its 59th year, Bells is professional surfing’s longest-running competition and an Australian Easter institution, where AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” blares from loudspeakers each morning to welcome competitors to the dedicated surfing reserve.
Wright and Toledo were marked with ochre by Aboriginal Wadawurrung traditional owners of the local land, before ringing the coveted Bells trophy in front of a big Easter Sunday crowd.
Australians were well represented on finals day, with three of the four men’s semi-finalists and Wright on the women’s side.
Waves had eased from earlier in the week and all but petered out when Toledo took on Ethan Ewing in the first men’s semi-final.
Toledo went searching for the small waves on offer and got a decent score by taking to the air twice on one fast right-hander, leaving Ewing sitting forlornly waiting for bigger waves that never came.
Robson, who had been working on building sites before making the 2022 Tour as a relative unknown, held his nerve against compatriot Jack Robinson in the second semi as stiff offshore winds made conditions challenging.
But after catching the best waves all week, Robson could not match Toledo’s speed and variety in the final.
The tour now moves to Western Australia’s Margaret River ahead of a new, mid-season cut that will halve the number of surfers, a change that prompted protests by some competitors.
(Reporting by Lincoln Feast in Sydney; Editing by William Mallard)