In a repeat of the Gold Coast finale, Carissa Moore (HAW) defeated reigning World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach Final. The win cements her spot as the women's Jeep Ratings leader, and she'll keep the traditional yellow jersey when she paddles out next at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro.
The Quarterfinals started with a sweep by the top seeds. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) defeated a clearly frustrated Lakey Peterson (USA), while Johanne Defay (FRA) didn't have a chance against an on-fire Moore.
Peterson put up a good fight but fell a few times, leaving the window wide open for her opponent to take advantage. Fitzibbons, as many of her fans well know, is a bulldog in the jersey -- waking up daily at 4:30 in the morning -- who trains intensively has a strict routine during contests. Translation: Opportunities to score rarely pass her by.
As for Defay, her Quarterfinal faceoff was a different story in the face of her unstoppable opponent. Named 2014 rookie of the year, Defay surfs solidly and can shine in heavy conditions. But in contrast to Moore and the other top women on Tour (think Gilmore, Tyler Wright (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA) and Courtney Conlogue (USA)), she lacks a certain power that sometimes limits her repertoire on the waves.
Moore also arrived at Bells with a few advantages: She's the defending event champ at Bells, and she hired local surfer Cahill Bell-Warren for some strategic tips. Bells is a break with a shifting, fickle lineup, where local knowledge can offer an edge that makes a difference.
The second half of the Quarters saw heavier battles, with fewer mistakes and a steady rise in intensity. Gilmore had the upper hand for the first half of the third heat against Wright, who waited for almost 15 minutes before finding a wave. But when she did, it was a big one: She scored an 8.50, upping the pressure on her opponent. She followed up with a 5.27, but it wasn't enough to catch up.
Closing out the Quarters were Coco Ho (HAW) and Conlogue in a fierce head-to-head matchup. Ho led for most the heat, scoring a 9.00 to firm things up, but Conlogue -- who is Fitzgibbons-like in competitive intensity -- found an 8.23 at the end, to snatch the win from Ho's hands.
The Semis were a battle of Tour titans, with Moore battling Fitzgibbons and Gilmore taking on Conlogue. Both heats were incredibly tight, with three nine-point range scores among them, but in the end the Final featured a familiar pair of rivals: Moore and Gilmore.
The matchup was far from a first; prior to the 2015 Rip Curl Women's Pro, the two women had faced off five times, the most recent of which was at the last Tour stop, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, where Moore took the win. Their record before Bells was 2-to-3 in favor of Gilmore, both in Final matchups and in number of wins at the historic spot. But this year, Moore evened that score with the repeat victory at Bells Beach.