A blustery Bells awaited the women Tuesday, with steady onshore wind and overhead set waves rolling in to kick off Round 4.
The first elimination heat pitted Silvana Lima (BRA) against Lakey Peterson (USA). Both women boast solid air games and powerful surfing, promising a match of equals. Lima, who returned to the Tour after falling off in 2014 with an injury, has had magic under her feet so far in 2015: She pulled a mind-blowing air-reverse on the Gold Coast and a 10-point ride in Round 1 at Bells.
But magic eluded her at Bells, where she won in 2005. Peterson put Lima on the defense out of the gate, earning an 8.33 on her first wave and backing it up with a 7.80. The Brazilian charger found some big set waves and pulled one of her gravity-defying floaters, but made some mistakes that cost her points -- and the heat. Peterson will face Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in the Quarterfinals.
Next up was a battle between Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW), a rivalry that has seen Defay has come out on top every time. Last year at Trestles, their Round 4 heat was a tough one to watch, with Quizon barely catching a wave. Defay defeated her again one month later, in Round 2 at the Cascais Women's Pro. At Bells, Quizon seemed to have found a renewed competitive fire, surfing with an aggression that has largely been missing from her performances at recent events.
A turnaround, however, was not to be. Despite a solid effort from the Hawaiian, their record became 3 - 0, with Defay earning a final 7.77 that tipped the scales. She'll take on defending event winner Carissa Moore (HAW) in the next round.
With local legend and Rip Curl founder "Claw" Warbrick looking on, team rider Tyler Wright (AUS) took down Bianca Buitendag (ZAF). The South African opened with a strong 8.00, but Wright topped her with an 8.50 and a 9.13, showing off her signature power and range of maneuvers. She'll match up against reigning WSL Champion and fellow Aussie Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in the Quarters.
"It's so good to be here and in the hometown of Rip Curl," said Wright. "I feel like Bells suits my surfing, sometime I almost get too excited when the face opens up. I have so many ideas of how I want to play with this one turn and it's just a dream to be out there."
The last pair to battle before the Quarterfinals was rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and Tour vet Courtney Conlogue (USA). Both women are fiercely competitive, with Weston-Webb making a splash with a Semifinal finish at Goldy -- her first event on the Top 17. At Bells, she again put up a good fight, pushing Conlogue to stay on top of her game. In the end, Conlogue won by just 0.18 of a point, and will face Coco Ho (HAW) when the Quarters get going.
Tune in to worldsurfleague.com to catch the men's action and the women's Quarters when their contest resumes. Catch waves on the go with the new WSL app.