The World Surf League (WSL) and the surfing world will turn it’s attention to Australia later this morning when the wave waiting period begins for 60th edition of the worlds oldest surfing contest, The Bells Beach Pro; which begins at 6am today (April 4 2023).
The Bells Beach Pro represents stop number four in the Championship Tour (CT) for both men and women, with the new format using mid-season cut looming after stop five also in Australia, at Margaret River.
The reformatted WSL CT, now in its third year; comprises 10 regular-season events in seven countries, starting in January for the Billabong Pro Pipeline.
36 men and 18 women will compete in the first five competitions at Pipeline (Hawaii), Sunset Beach (Hawaii), Supertubos (Portugal), Bells Beach (Australia), and Margaret River (Australia).
The mid-season cut comes in to play at the conclusion of stop number five at Margaret River when the men’s field gets reduced from 36 to 24, and the women’s field gets cut from 18 to 12.
WST CT surfers will then surf another five contests at Surf Ranch (USA), Surf City (El Salvador), Rio (Brazil), J-Bay (South Africa), and Tahiti (French Polynesia) before only the final five in rankings will progress to finals day at Lower Trestles (USA) in September.
WSL CT Bells Beach Pro Mens Outright Winner
With the top five men on the rankings officially locking in spots above the Mid-season Cut, and only two events left to accumulate points, competition will be at all-time levels.
Jack Robinson (AUS), Joao Chianca (BRA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), and Griffin Colapinto (USA) will go into Bells with the added confidence of knowing they are safe as their competitors scramble to gather enough points to join them in the continued race for the World Title.
“I’m enjoying being back in Australia, and I got the tingles this morning at the opening ceremony,” said Robinson.
“I’m just taking it one step at a time, like going down the stairs at Bells.
I feel like last year there was so much going on, it was a new position for me. I’m just focused on my path now. These guys I’m competing against push me and bring the best out of me. I’m excited.”
Current No. 5 on the rankings, Colapinto, recently watched his brother Crosby Colapinto (USA) take the win at the BTMI Barbados Surf Pro Challenger Series event and hopes to build off that winning momentum at Bells.
“I’m really happy to see him doing well, and hopefully, we can both be doing well at the same time,” said Colapinto.
“I’ve only surfed in contests two years out here, but I think Bells really suits my surfing. I need to learn what waves to catch and where to sit, but if I get the bell, that means I’ll have it solved.”
Top betting sites have priced “Aussie” hope Jack Robinson as favourite to win the Bells Beach Pro at +400, from Filipe Toledo at +500, John John Florence at +600, Australian Ethan Ewing at +700 and Gabriel Media at +1100.
Proving how different conditions can be expected to be at Bells, top five ranked Joao Chianca is priced at +1200, Griffin Colapinto at +1600 and Caio Ibelli at +3300.
Undeniable WSL legend Kelly Slater, who needs a good finish to survive the mid-season cut; is priced at +4900 for an outright win.
Complicating the surfing betting on the men’s side of the draw, ever popular Australian Owen Wright has been granted a wildcard for the Bells Beach Pro to surf the event as his testimonial and last ever surfing contest.
Who will ever forget the scenes at Bells in 2018 when Mick Fanning was granted the same wildcard under the same conditions and went all the way to the final narrowly going down to Italo Ferreira?
Tour veteran and event wildcard Owen Wright also hopes to have that special feeling of “ringing the Bell” as he has decided to make the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach his final Championship Tour event appearance before retiring from competition.
Having competed at Bells Beach at all levels for over 20 years, Wright hopes to make his last event here his most successful, as he continues to search for his maiden victory at the Rip Curl Pro.
“I couldn’t see it any other way,” said Wright.
“I was here last year for Tyler’s (Wright) win, one of the biggest of her career. It’s a special thing for us, we make the pilgrimage here every year. The whole family is here and I’ll cherish this forever.
“I’ve had a career with a lot of up-and-down moments and had some time to reflect on what a wild journey this tour is. All the glimpses are going to be flashing through my mind as I paddle out at Bells.”
The top sports betting sites have recognised the importance of the event to Owen Wright, and the fact that all the emotion around his final appearance could not only lift his chances but those of sister Tyler Wright in the women’s draw.
Owen has been priced at +2000 to win Bells at his final attempt, while sister Tyler is a form favourite on the women/s side of the draw at +400.
WSL CT Mens Bells Beach Pro Betting
Unfortunately the surf forecast for at least the first week of the Bells wave period doesn’t conjure up the prospect of a classic Bells Beach big wave contest, which explains why some of the smaller wave experts are much higher in the betting than would be expected.
Surfers like Owen Wright will definitely be advantaged with the prospect of big open face carves but we may not see those waves unless the event goes in to the late days of the wave period.
As the event progresses, the surfing betting will get much clearer and value easier to find once we reach the head-to-head stages of competition, and BettingPlanet.com will have keep you up to date with the best sports betting picks and news from the Bells Beach Pro.
Kelly Slater, who can handle all kinds of conditions and needs a good finish to survive the cut, is a great bet at +4900.
Given all the emotion and support around Owen Wright’s final appearance it would be impossible not take a piece of that action at +2000.
American Griffin Colapinto whose free carving style looks as good on an open face as it does when he goes to the air, looks great value at +1600 and probably gets the kind of conditions where his adaptable style will be advantaged.
Bells Beach Pro Men’s Outright Winner Tips
WSL CT Bells Beach Pro Womens Outright Winner
On the women’s side, the points are too close for anyone to be confirmed to have made the cut yet, and the race is intensifying.
Australian “young gun” Molly Picklum and rookie Caitlin Simmers (USA) have relished in their newfound success at the top of the rankings but surely should also be feeling the extra weight of that position.
“Having the number one next to your name definitely adds pressure,” said Picklum.
“I’m glad I get to enjoy this and embrace the busyness that comes with being number one. It’s all so good, I’m soaking it up and enjoying my time at Bells.”
“It’s been a lot the last few months but it feels good,” said Simmers.
“I feel more comfortable in a wetsuit, and the weather here is similar to where I’m from in California.”
Despite Picklum and Simmers holding the top of the women’s WSL CT rankings, bookies have installed last year’s Bells winner Tyler Wright as even favourite for an outright win at +400.
“I’ve won World Titles, but it’s nothing like winning at home at Bells,” said Wright.
“It’s special to have my family here. We’ve been coming here for a long time, so it’s really fitting for Owen (Wright) to finish his career here. It’s really special to slow it down and enjoy it all, and I’m excited to see Owen compete.”
Carissa Moore in on the second line of betting at +500, while fan favourite Steph Gilmore is priced at +600.
Steph Gilmore will be desperately searching for a good finish at Bells as she is facing the prospect of missing the cut without late round finishes at both Bells and Margaret River.
Gilmore is currently ranked 14th and almost 3,000 CT points below the mid-season cutoff, but has been ripping with her trademark “soul surfer” flowing style in preparation for this event.
Tour leaders Picklum and Simmers are +700 and +800 respectively with online bookmakers, while comparative veterans Courtney Conlogue (+900), Lakey Peterson (+1200), Sally Fitzgibbons (+1600) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (+1600) fill the next four lines of betting.
Goofy footer Caroline Marks (+1700) has managed a third placed finish in this event the last two times she competed in it in 2019 and 2018.
An injury plagued 2022 season has seen her drop off the radar somewhat but her third placed finish at Sunset this year, wedged between two ninth placed finishes in unsuitable waves at Pipeline and Portugal, should signal her potential back to larger fuller waves at Bells.
WSL CT Womens Bells Beach Pro Betting
Despite the emotion and buzz that will surround the Wright family this week, taking +400 about Tyler Wright for an outright win represents little value as demonstrated by her elimination round exit at Portugal.
Steph Gilmore can be incredibly frustrating as a surfing betting prospect as her relaxed attitude can often see her come from behind in heats to win with only two to three scoring waves.
But the prospect of missing the 2023 Womens WSL CT cut will surely be a huge motivation for Gilmore this week and we like her to have a deep run at +600 in waves she has excelled on many times.
Caroline Marks is extremely good value at +1700 and provided her injury woes are behind her, this event looks a perfect platform for her to establish a solid run in the CT rankings toward the finals at Lower Trestles.
WSL CT Womens Bells Beach Pro Opening Round Draw
- Heat 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
- Heat 2: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
- Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Kobie Enright (AUS)
- Heat 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
- Heat 5: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
- Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
WSL CT Mens Bells Beach Pro Opening Round Draw
- Heat 1: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRC)
- Heat 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Maxime Huscenot (FRA)
- Heat 3: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
- Heat 4: Joao Chianca (BRA) vs. Matthew McGillivray (RSA) vs. Dylan Moffat (AUS)
- Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Ian Gentil (HAW) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
- Heat 6: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Xavier Huxtable (AUS)
- Heat 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
- Heat 8: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (RSA) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
- Heat 9: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Rio Waida (INA) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
- Heat 10: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)
- Heat 11: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Liam O’Brien (AUS)
- Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW)
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