Young Guns Win Wildcard Berths At Bells Beach

SPC Fruit Pro
Rip Curl Pro
Rip Curl GromSearch International Final
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia
March 21-April 1

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Young Guns Win Wildcard Berths At Bells Beach

YOUNG guns Ben Dunn (Old Bar, NSW, Australia) and Jean de Silva (San Francisco do Sul, Brazil) upset a stellar field to win the remaining two wildcard berths into this year’s Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, dominating the Elastomax 2 Trials at Gunnamatta Beach.

Earlier in the day 2003 Amateur World Junior Champion Jessi Miley-Dyer (Bronte, NSW, Australia) held out rising star Stephanie Gilmore (Kingscliff, NSW, Australia) to seal a spot in the SPC Fruit Pro women’s World Championship Tour (WCT) event at Bells Beach.

Dunn, a 19-year-old two-time Amateur World Junior Champion, defeated Brazil’s De Silva, three-time ASP World Champion Tom Curren and former world #6 Kieren Perrow in an entertaining four-man final, held in wind-affected 1.5-metre waves at Gunnamatta Beach.

Having won all three of his preliminary round heats, the lightning fast natural-footer opened the final with an outstanding 9-point ride and, despite some great surfing from his opponents, never looked liked losing.

“I’m stoked, an elated Dunn said afterwards.”I had a couple of nervous heats but everything just worked out for me.

Dunn was awarded a sponsor’s wildcard into last year’s Rip Curl Pro, eliminating Perrow in Round 2 before being stopped by three-time World Champion Andy Irons in the third round.

“Last year I got a wildcard and just seeing my name in the draw — it was epic, he said. “I’ve got a lot more experience now and I’m really looking forward to it.

De Silva, who finished equal fifth in the World Junior Championships in Sydney earlier this year, was also in outstanding form in the preliminary rounds with three easy victories in the challenging conditions.

The 20-year-old made a late charge in the dying minutes of the final, posting a 7.20-point ride to overtake Curren and take the remaining wildcard spot, but still required an outstanding 9.05-point score to catch Dunn.

“I can’t believe it, De Silva said.”It’s my first time in the trials and I can’t believe I’m into the main event, he said. “To be in the WCT, to surf against the best surfers in the world, it’s what every surfer dreams about. I want to be a professional surfer and this is an important step for me.

Curren edged past Hawaiian powerhouse Pancho Sullivan to reach the final and, displaying the style that took him to three world titles, was always in contention, finishing just 0.55 of a point behind De Silva.

After undertaking a crazy 10-hour dash from Western Australia to contest today’s trials, Perrow ran out of steam in the final and was left requiring a combination of scores to win.

The final of the SPC Fruit Pro Trials was a nail-biting affair between two of Australia’s most exciting teenage surfers, with Bronte’s Jessi Miley-Dyer battling it out with Stephanie Gilmore, the 17-year-old winner of the season opening Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast earlier this month.

Miley-Dyer posted two strong rides and held on to a slim 0.50-point lead, while Gilmore failed to capitalise on an outstanding 8.50-point score.

The 18-year-old continued her love affair with Gunnamatta Beach, where she won her second Balin Pro Junior title in January.

“I love Victoria, I love Bells and I really wanted this wildcard, Miley-Dyer said.”This is such a great opportunity to go out and catch a couple of waves at Bells and have a go at one of the WCT events. I really want to be on this tour one day so to get the experience is just unreal.

Results:

Elastomax 2 Trials – Final
Ben Dunn (Australia) 16.25 points
Jean de Silva (Brazil) 13.80
Tom Curren (USA) 13.25
Kieren Perrow (Australia) 10.25

SPC Fruit Pro Trials – Final
Jessi Mileyy-Dyer (Australia) 13.75 points
Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) 13.25
Amanda Clegg (Australia) 10.15
Mizuki Hagiwari (Japan) 7.50

The Rip Curl Pro is proudly presented by Deakin University, associated with Surfing Victoria, the Surf Coast Shire Council, the Victorian Government Department of Tourism, Sport & The Commonwealth Games, the Association of Surfing Professionals, and supported by sponsors Telstra, Chupa Chups, National Australia Bank, Falls Creek, Schweppes, Four’n Twenty Pies and Tracks.