The Rip Curl Pro is back at Bells Beach, and some of the world’s best surfers have expressed their appreciation for the iconic break after a two-year COVID-imposed absence from the World Surf League (WSL) tour.
Full press conference here >>> 2022 Rip Curl Pro press conference
Championship Tour surfers Tyler Wright, Mick Fanning, Griffin Colapinto and India Robinson were among the WSL talent who took part in a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony held on the beach this morning (Friday, April 8) to launch the WSL competition, which officially begins this Sunday, April 10.
Speaking at a press conference held afterwards, all four surfers as well as incumbent CT #1 holders Kanoa Igarashi and Brisa Hennessy spoke about their love of Bells and their desire to ride waves there again.
Robinson, a Jan Juc local in her first year on the CT, said she had watched surfing at Bells Beach from a young age and told her fellow panellists it was surreal to actually be on the tour.
“Surfing Victoria set up a really cool idea for us groms to board caddy for a lot of yourselves, so I’ve been down here probably from the age of 10 and holding all your boards, so to now be up here with you and be competing against you, it’s really cool. I ended up caddying pretty much for all the big guys and I couldn’t really hold their boards properly!
Fanning has rung the bell at Bells four times and his retirement from the CT was at the same break in 2018, finishing second to Italo Ferreira.
He scored a wildcard to the 2022 event, as he did in his first appearance in 2001, which saw him go all the way and beat Danny Wills in the final.
“It’s a big 360, but I guess on the feeling side of it, I’m a lot older,” Fanning quipped.
He said his first and last finals in the Pro were very different.
“I was extremely hungry as a 19-year-old, and to make the final against Italo in my last ever event as a tour surfer, it showed me that it was the right decision for me, and to see what Italo has gone on and done after that is truly incredible, and the emotion he poured out in that final was really special. Very, very different, but both amazing.”
Surf Coast Times story here.