Owen Wright was in sensational form during his opening round bout with Patrick Gudauskas and Bede Durbidge, posting the highest heat total of the round, a 17.93 out of a possible 20.
“It’s really turning on out there,” Wright said. “After watching that first heat and noticing it was slow I figured we would be on in terms of waves. Bells is always slow heat, fast heat, slow heat, fast heat. It was good to get into a rhythm and wrack up a few solid scores.”
Consistently one of the best-performing goofy-footers on the elite ASP World Championship Tour, Wright draws inspiration from 1999 ASP World Champion and goofy-footed legend Mark Occhilupo. Coincidently, Occhilupo is the last goofy-footer to claim the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, back in 1998.
“I’m feeling in form and I’ve actually been drawing a lot of inspiration from Occy (Mark Occhilupo) at Margaret River last week,” Wright said.
“He’s 45 and he’s still pushing the limits of surfing and it was really exciting to see him do so well. With this event, I put a bit more volume in the boards after noticing Occy had a bit more in his boards out West. I’ve got some new fins and it’s just a great combination I have going at the moment. Feels like the boards have really been carrying me through those soft sections out there and putting me where I want to be on the waves.”
Joel Parkinson continued to show the world why he is regarded as one of the finest surfers ever to step foot in the Bells Bowl, coming back from an inconsistent heat to post an excellent 9.27 out of a possible 10 and advance directly to Round 3.
“Bells can definitely go quiet like that,” Parkinson said. “There are some really good waves out there today, but it can be pretty slow. It can be a good heat or a bad heat. You just don’t know. That 9.27 was a dream little Bells Bowl waves. It just lined up for me and I was able to let my surfing do what it needed to do.”
Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, Adriano de Souza and Nic Muscroft are also qualified to Round 3.
“It was interesting out there as I really did all the work in the last four minutes,” Slater said. “I felt like I was out of rhythm the whole heat, but really there just weren’t waves with a lot of scoring potential. Bells has that characteristic though and the door was left open just enough for me to get one in at the end.”
Taj Burrow fell against Muscroft and Andino and will have to surf Round 2.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 1:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.60, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.10, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.17
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 17.93, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.97, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.50
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.00, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 8.67, Taylor Knox (USA) 4.17
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.27, Kai Otton (AUS) 12.23, Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 5: Nic Muscroft (AUS) 16.07, Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.06, Burrow (AUS) 11.10
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.70, Brett Simpson (USA) 10.33, Davey Cathels (AUS) 9.77
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.10, Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.23, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 6.66
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.76, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.10, Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.80
Heat 9: Travis Logie (ZAF) 10.93, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.90, Josh Kerr (AUS) 8.50