At 19 years old, Mick Fanning made the most of his wildcard opportunity and charged into the 2001 Rip Curl Pro, defeating veteran Tour surfer Danny Wills by a narrow 1.70-point margin in the Final. Fanning's unlikely win at Bells proved to be the catalyst for an incredible year that saw him win the Qualifying Series, secure a place on the Championship Tour for 2002, and be named Surfer magazine's 'Breakthrough Performer of the Year.'
1999 World Champion Mark Occhilupo's impressive style trumped all other surfers at the 2001 edition of Australia's then-richest professional surfing event, which held a prize purse of $250,000. He didn't win the contest that year -- Garcia beat him in Round 4 -- but he made a big impression.
On the wrong end of the very narrow point-spread in the 2002 Final, Garcia's runner-up finish spelled the end of another year for the burly Hawaiian's push to equal Australian surfing legend Mark Richards' record of four titles at Bells.
In 2005, the final day of the Bells event ran at Woolamai Beach on Phillip Island. Irons looked brilliant throughout the day's heats and was the favorite going into the Final against Trent Munro (AUS).
Parkinson earned a spot in the 2006 Final after defeating fellow Australians Fanning and Occhilupo in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals respectively, progressing to his showdown with the then-seven-time World Champ Slater.
Bede Durbidge (AUS) finished runner-up in 2008, leading for most of the Final before his opponent, Slater, paddled away from the main lineup towards Rincon. It was there that he slipped into the winning wave.
Despite his defeat in 2009, Robertson did Victoria proud. He had surfed his way from the local trials to the Final of the main event, with his fairytale run coming to end at the hands of an in-form Parkinson in perfect conditions. With his remarkable performance, Robbo became just the second Victorian after Terry Wall (in 1962 and 1966) to finish runner-up at Bells.
The next year, Fanning again put on an inspired performance in the 2011 Final. But this time is wasn't Slater who ended his run, but his longtime friend, Parkinson, who would use priority to get the better of their last exchange.
But 2011's finale paled in comparison with what followed in 2012: In what was hailed as the one of the best Finals in the event's history, Fanning finally defeated Slater. The Australian edged out his American opponent by the narrowest of margins, with a pair of 9-point-range rides that just barely topped Slater's 10 and 8.07. Fanning's win marked his 14th elite Tour title and his first Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach win since 2001.
Still, Slater's runner-up finish was remarkable: He had fought his way back from an early combination situation, completing an incredible full-rotation aerial for a perfect 10 against Fanning in the Final. The legendary naturalfooter backed it up moments later with an 8.07 to take the lead, though he would only hold it briefly.
In 2015, Mick Fanning and would-be World Champion Adriano de Souza faced off in the event Final. Whoever won the event would be leaving the contest with the Jeep Ratings lead and the coveted yellow jersey.