In clean but at times inconsistent 0.3 to 1 metre (one to three foot) waves, Munro, the 20th seed, comfortably won today’s 30-minute final over top seed and three-time world champion Andy Irons, of Hawaii, to claim the US$30,000 first prize and the right to ring the coveted Bell trophy.
Munro caught the opening wave in the final, scoring 6.17 (out of 10), but Irons’ first ride moments later was a very good 7.5. The pair then traded the lead a few times with average rides, before the Australian caught the best single ride of the decider at the halfway mark – an 8.57 – and was never headed.
The 26-year-old from Scotts Head on the NSW north coast posted a total heat score of 16.57 (out of a possible 20 points) from his best two rides – an 8.57 and and 8.2 – with Irons scoring a total of 15.07 from his best two rides, a 7.50 and a 7.57.
Munro’s victory today – only his 2nd WCT event win in five years among the world’s top 50 – also lifted him into the top spot on the current world ratings, backing up his equal third place in the year’s first WCT contest in Queensland three weeks ago.
Irons was disappointed to lose but content with the second place cheque for US$16,000, with his quest for a fourth consecutive world professional crown in good shape, his equal fifth placing in Queensland and today’s runner-up finish putting him in third place on the latest world rankings.
Australia’s Mick Fanning, who won the opening WCT event of the year in Queensland, was beaten by Irons in today’s Round of 16, but hangs onto second place in the world rankings.
The 26-year-old Hawaiian’s record in the Rip Curl Pro competition over the past five years is outstanding – runner-up today, semi-finalist in 2001 and 2004, and Bell-ringing champion in 2002 and 2003.
Today Irons took out 9th seeded Floridian Damien Hobgood in the quarter finals, before producing a blistering performance in the semis – posting 18.96, the second highest heat score of the event – to knock out his good friend and 14th seed Cory Lopez, also from Florida and the lone goofy-footer (right foot forward) in the final four.
On the opposite side of the draw, Munro produced two of the three best total heat scores of the competition earlier today, posting a sensational 19.00 in beating West Australian 6th seed Taj Burrow in the quarter finals, and a brilliant 18.70 in the Round of 16, ending the run of Queensland WCT rookie Bede Durbridge.
Equal third today went to Byron Bay’s Danny Wills, the 16th seed, and Lopez, who each pocketed US$10,000 for their efforts.
Equal fifth place went to Sydney’s Richie Lovett, the 23rd seed; 9th seeded Floridian Damien Hobgood; 28th seed Darren O’Rafferty, of Bonny Hills in northers NSW; and West Australian Taj Burrow, the 6th seed.
Incredibly, not a single heat of the 33rd Rip Curl Pro was held at its traditional home base at Bells Beach — a first in the competition’s history that organisers are hoping does not happen again for another three decades.
The decision to move to Phillip Island’s Woolamai Beach, about 200 kilometres to the east, was forced on organisers earlier this week when the first seven days of the event’s 11-day waiting period passed without a heat being run due to poor surf at Bells.
On Monday, officials were faced with a forecast that only promised contestable surf on Phillip Island on Tuesday, Wednesday and today, with marathon days on Tuesday and Wednesday allowing completion of an event that normally takes four full days to run.
The next event on the Foster’s World Championship Tour begins in Tahiti in early May.
WCT Ranking After Bells:
1. Trent Munro
2. Mick Fanning
3. Andy Irons
4. Chris Ward
5. C.J. Hobgood
5. Damien Hobgood
5. Richie Lovett
8. Danny Wills
8. Tom Whitaker
10. Joel Parkinson
10. Troy Brooks
12. Kelly Slater
22. Bruce Irons