BELLS BEACH, Australia – South Africa’s Jordy Smith won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach on Wednesday, after electric performances in pumping 2-2.5m conditions at the iconic venue in the Australian State of Victoria.
The win elevated him to World No 2 on the rankings.
Smith beat fellow finalist Caio Ibelli of Brazil in a classic Bells Beach showdown to close out the Australian leg.
The third stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, is the longest-running surf event in the world.
This year’s 56th edition saw a competitive field of elite surfers throw down their best performances, with Smith earning the right to ‘ring the Bell’ for the first time in his career.
Smith secured his sixth Championship Tour win, following a series of heated match-ups against Ibelli, 2017 CT Rookie Ezekiel Lau (Hawaii) and 2015 WSL champion Adriano de Souza (Brazil).
The win marks Smith’s best result here at Bells, following his runner-up finish in 2016, and moves him up to World No 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I can’t even believe it – second last year and now this – it’s amazing,’ Smith said.
“I tried to take it easy and not take things too seriously, as you may have been able to tell from some of my claims in the Final. This is an absolute dream come true. I’ve been working on winning this event for 10 years now, and to get it today is incredible.”
An intense final witnessed Smith and Ibelli blast huge scores as they put all on the line to win. Smith charged with two nine-point rides for the lead.
Ibelli answered back with a near-perfect 9.63 (out of a possible 10), needing a 9.25 with 10 minutes left on the clock. Smith continued to heat things up with a 9.13, raising the requirement to a 9.28.
With a 17.46 two-wave score, Ibelli was not able to defeat the South African’s commanding 18.90.
“I wasn’t sure how many opportunities I was going to get with the high tide, so I just took every wave I could,” continued Smith.
“Once I got the 9, a bit of the pressure dropped and then, sure enough, Caio [Ibelli] kept coming. He is an amazing surfer and has been so on point this event.
“After a few years of injury and re-building, I feel like the pieces of the puzzle are coming together this year. My family and wife are right behind me and I couldn’t do it without their support.”
Ibell’s runner-up finish is his career-best result on the elite CT. The 2016 Rookie of the Year showcased a new level in his surfing with powerful, high-risk manoeuvres to take out a tough field of challengers in final series.
The next stop on the 2017 WSL Championship Tour is the Oi Rio Pro in Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from May 9-20.