The first-round heats of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach were completed over the weekend, with Michel Bourez, Adriano de Souza, and defending champ Mick Fanning surfing straight through to round three.
Event number two of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Victoria signals the culmination of the Australian leg of the ASP Dream Tour, and Sunday's windy, punchy, three-foot waves lent themselves to high-performance aerial surfing at its finest.
Bourez – aka Spartan – is into his second year on the ASP World Tour and he dominated the morning’s wedging righthanders in a shootout against veteran Taylor Knox (USA), 38, and rookie Adam Melling (Australia), 25.
With all three posting solid scores, it was Bourez (pictured above) who secured the win on the final wave, belting a running righthander in a flurry of high-power, progressive forehand bashes. In unfamiliar conditions, the French Polynesian was happy to seal the win.
“I knew I only needed a small score so I just caught the first wave that I saw,” Bourez said. “I expected the surfer in blue to get it, but he was pretty far away so I thought ‘this is my last chance’ and I got the score on it.
"It’s way different than what I’m used to. At home, I usually surf without a wetsuit – it’s always warm, and there are good waves too. Today’s not that good. I hope it’ll get better tomorrow or the day after.”
Winning the heat means that Bourez moves through straight to the third round, but Jordy Smith will compete in the second round after finishing behind Patrick Gudauskas in Heat 11.
In the earlier heats held on Saturday, Adriano de Souza had been the standout of the afternoon rounds, executing a series of powerful turns and progressive aerials to net an impressive 15.07 out of a possible 20 to advance directly into Round 3.
“I feel great,” De Souza said. “First heat here at Bells and I win it, so I’m really proud because I came to work on this event two weeks before the start. I wanted to have a good heat in the beginning. The conditions are not really good, but I’m proud of my surfing and my boards are working really good as well, so I’ll just keep going and hope that this event is going to put me in the Top 5 again.”
Reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning was also impressive on the opening day of competition, scoring 13.73 in Heat 8 to progress to Round 3.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach – round one results
Heat 1: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.33, Dane Reynolds (USA) 8.56, Nate Yeomans (USA) 8.40
Heat 2: Luke Stedman (AUS) 12.66, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 9.77, Damien Hobgood (USA) 7.84
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.50, Bobby Martinez (USA) 10.43, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 7.73
Heat 4: Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.60, Travis Logie (ZAF) 5.73, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4.83
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.00, Marco Polo (BRA) 8.16, Mick Campbell (AUS) 7.84
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.07, Blake Thornton (AUS) 11.56, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 10.77
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.26, Daniel Ross (AUS) 13.27, Neco Padaratz (BRA) 9.13
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.73, Kai Otton (AUS) 11.23, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 12.00
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.00, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.33, Chris Davidson (AUS) 8.83
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.56, Adam Robertson (AUS) 11.97, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.50
Heat 11: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.84, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.33, Jay Thompson (AUS) 11.16
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.63, Adam Melling (AUS) 12.43, Taylor Knox (USA) 12.33
Heat 13: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 9.93, Brett Simpson (AUS) 9.23, Jadson Andre (BRA) 7.83
Heat 14: Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.26, Ben Dunn (AUS) 12.50, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 10.34
Heat 15: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.94, Owen Wright (AUS) 10.83, Drew Courtney (AUS) 7.50
Heat 16: Roy Powers (HAW) 12.84, Dean Morrison (AUS) 9.50, Luke Munro (AUS) 8.34