"You gotta win it to ring it." That's the slogan of the 2013 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, and on Monday afternoon, Carissa Moore became the 21st woman -- in the entire world -- who's earned the privilege. The 20-year-old Hawaiian, who was runner-up to Sally Fitzgibbons in the 2011 Rip Curl Pro, elicited hearty cheers and huge grins from the crowd as she rang the bell with unreserved elation.
"To win Bells is something I've dreamed of since I started competing, and it's just so exciting," Moore said. "Just coming down and surfing the wave itself, hearing the song in the morning, and getting to ring that iconic trophy. It's just ... the best of the best have won this event and it's just really an honor."
The waves hadn't stopped all morning as the men finished off round two. Heat after mind-blowing heat was surfed in punctual, flawless four-foot waves, with offshore wind, no less. The contest site had reached capacity, which means there were about 6,000 people in attendance--on a small beach in a surfing reserve. AC/DC's anthem played as the women's final started.
Three, two, one: set. A magnificent set drifted through and Wright gave up priority in a failed first paddle. Moore took off on the wave behind it. Her masterful rail work and commanding snaps earned her a 9.57, another of the event's top scores. Moore actually had three of the top five heat totals at Bells, though the final didn't figure in, because after that nearly perfect ride and two quick rides from Wright, the ocean went flat. For about 26 minutes.
"I think I definitely wanted it to come down to surfing, and for us both to have good performances and I was sad that Tyler didn't really get that chance," Moore admitted. "I like when the heats are close. It's great for the sport."
When sets finally returned, Moore managed to put her opponent in a combination situation. Wright's been improving her result at Bells each year, graduating from ninth to fifth, then third, and now second. As she rode into shore, she turned around and applauded Moore's performance.
"[The world title race] doesn't even enter my mind," Wright said. "At all. I'm just surfing and that's all I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I didn't get to do a lot of surfing in that heat, but Carissa did, and it would have been amazing to watch. I don't feel like [a rivalry] is necessary. I'm happy that she got to ring a bell. That's history. It's huge. I would have been psyching if I'd won it, but it wasn't my day -- and that's okay."
Should the title race enter your mind, these back-to-back WCT wins have pushed Moore past Wright to the top of the ranking. But there are only 500 points between them.
The next stop on the ASP Women's World Tour is the Dow AgroSciences Pro in Taranaki, New Zealand, which begins Wednesday. "I'm really excited about New Zealand," said Moore, who took a second last year. "I leave tomorrow morning, and then I have a week before I go home, so I'm looking forward to, hopefully, finishing this leg strong."
RIP CURL WOMEN'S PRO BELLS BEACH FINAL RESULTS:
1. Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.40
2. Tyler Wright (AUS) 8.00
CURRENT ASP WOMEN'S WCT TOP 5 (Following Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach):
1. Carissa Moore (HAW) 26,500 pts
2. Tyler Wright (AUS) 26,000 pts
3. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 19,700 pts
4. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 18,200 pts
5. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16,900 pts