Thursday, March 31, 2016 – Bells Beach, Victoria Australia
Californian Courtney Conlogue won her first Bells title Friday, edging two-time event winner Sally Fitzgibbons by a tenth-of-a-point in an incredible final showdown that went to the wire, and capped one of the most incredible days of women’s performance surfing ever.
The massive victory is sweet redemption for Conlogue, who was injured at Bells back in 2014 just as she was entering World Title contender conversations. But the gritty Californian clawed her way back into a Title chase last year, falling just short to Carissa Moore in the final event of the season.
On Friday, Conlogue not only got to ring prestigious bell she’s been coveting since childhood, she also nabbed the ratings lead and the Jeep Leader’s yellow jersey as the women head to Margaret River.
The ladies enjoyed perfect Bells conditions all day, and celebrated by delivering a flurry of inspirational performances that will have people talking for weeks to come. The surf allowed the women to put the full range of their performance repertoires on display.
Early in the day, Carissa Moore put in one of the most impressive performance of her career in a dominant quarterfinal match against Stephanie Gilmore. Her hacks were textbook perfect, and will broken down and analyzed by even the world’s best men.
Surprisingly, Moore took over quickly and dominated the highly-anticipated match. Had you placed your bets on her to win her 4th straight Bells title at that moment you wouldn’t have been alone. She looked unstoppable.
But Sally Fitzgibbons would have something to say about that in the semifinals. Fitzgibbons, who has a couple Bells titles of her own, reminded Carissa of that fact as she lit up the bowl with a 9.0 in their match. Carissa, didn’t have an answer.
Meanwhile, Conlogue was quietly winning every one of her heats on the other side of the bracket; her steely determination on display each time she took to the water. And she had tough matches against Quiksilver Pro winner Tyler Wright and a very fired up Tatiana Weston-Webb during her quarter and semifinal battles.
Conlogue is probably taking comfort in the fact that she’s got the yellow jersey heading to Margaret River, where she’s the defending champion. But you can rest assured she won’t be resting, because nobody was more in awe of the performances being put in by all the women today than she was.
“That was insane,” Conlogue said after her final. “What a rollercoaster of an event! Sally’s been ripping, and everyone has this entire event. I was just going, I kind of want a bell, but I knew it was going to be a lot of work.”