ADVERTISEMENT
Photo: WSL/Aaron Hughes.

Dream of Californication on the CT

Cole Houshmand claims his first CT event and secures his spot, while Caity Simmers’ last minute winner sees her take the yellow jersey.

“This is what we dreamt of since we were kids,” said Cole Houshmand after taking down his childhood friend and fellow San Clemente surfer Griffin Colapinto in the final of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

“This is probably the best day of my life,” he added.

Ringing the historic bell and etching his name into surf folklore was the icing on the cake for Cole, whose debut campaign in Victoria could have been cut short. The 6ft3 goofy footer narrowly scraped through the opening and elimination rounds and surfed what Griffin had earlier labelled as ‘probably the two worst heats’ of Cole’s life.

The alarm bells were ringing as Cole came into the event in 26th place, well below the mid-year cut line. However, in true Rocky Balboa fashion, the San Clemente heavyweight showed it’s not about how hard you’re hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.

He went on to beat one of his heroes in Gabriel Medina, world number two Ethan Ewing, Matty McGillivray and childhood sparring partner Griff on his way to his first CT win – an impressive set of scalps to say the least. The victory moves Cole into 8th place and secures his spot for the back half of the year.

On the women’s side, Caity Simmers made it a double win for California as she delivered a 12th round, last minute knockout against Johanne Defay to claim her first bell and head into WA in the leader’s jersey.

The second part of finals day, which began earlier this week, saw the women’s semi-finals take to the water first, in overcast and onshore Bells. Not quite the epitome of a classic Bells finals day, but rippable nonetheless.

In SF1 Johanne Defay ousted Brisa Hennessy in a battle of the better wave choice. Johanne looked smooth in her rail-to-rail transitions and chose waves that facilitated a variety of manoeuvres. The highlight turn was a layback hack on her 7.03, which turned the heat in her favour late in the game.

Brisa looked powerful throughout the semifinal but could not find a wave with a solid end section to put her own stamp on the heat.

In SF2 Caity Simmers combo’d Caroline Marks for the majority of the heat. The 18-year-old made the most of each wave, surfing smart and using the stylish layback she possesses in her arsenal to make the most of the crumbling onshore sections. Meanwhile, last year’s world champion didn’t really get going and was well beaten.

In men’s SF1, Cole navigated the tricky conditions by carving straight through them, proving that the onshore bumps were no match for his backhand attack. The final proved to be one step too far for Matthew McGillivray who could only muster a 6.17 and 1.60 in what was a slow heat.

In SF2 Griff looked unstoppable against Rio Waida whose respectable 14.53 total would have been enough to see him through to the final, if he hadn’t come up against the current world number one. Griffin looked flawless throughout the heat, pulling off fins blows and tweaked reverses with style and serious ease. His laser-sharp forehand left the Indonesian looking flustered and led to him making a number of mistakes, which he struggled to recover from.  As it transpired Griff had probably peaked a shade too soon.

The stakes in the women’s final were doubled as the winner would head into WA as number one in the world. Throughout the 40 minutes it looked like Johanne Defay would take the top spot as she manufactured a pair of high 5’s and Caity struggled to put together anything substantial.

However, in the dying seconds Johanne used her priority to block Caity on a wave, which ended up being a closeout. Defay obviously feared the dynamic Simmers could chase her down with a single move. This left the Californian out the back with 20 seconds to go and it proved to be enough time for her to land the knockout blow. Caity took off behind Johanne’s wave, smacked the lip twice and sealed the win with a 6.67, claiming her second CT victory of the year.

The men’s final got off to a shaky start as Griff, who earlier looked like he could do no wrong, uncharacteristically fell at the start of the heat. Houshy, brimming with confidence, came out of the gates swinging with a 7-point ride, made up of his trademark tight backhand pocket surfing. His manoeuvre count must have been in the double-figures by the end of the wave. Whenever the Bowl stood up his transition between turns was flawless and the combo-effect obviously impressed the judges.  Col is 6’3 but his bottom turns scoop so low, he almost drags his butt through the water as he loads up. Earlier in the week the San Clemente posse had suggested there was some similarities between mid-size Bells and the right at Trestles they regularly surfed. They certainly looked comfortable with the pace and curve of the bowl.     

Griff replied with a 5.93 and a 6.93 for a tweaked forehand air reverse, putting him out in front. As the commentators pointed out, Griff was better equipped to get a score on a mediocre wave and this was a crucial factor in his reclaiming of the lead. 

Cole then proved too strong for his own good as he buckled his board on a turn and was forced to change equipment. Despite looking slightly reserved on his first wave using a backup board, he still earnt a 6.50, which put him back in front. With two minutes to go Griff took one last roll of the dice and despite a whipped frontside snap and a persuasive claim, could only muster a 5.87, marginally short of the requirement.

Despite coming up short, in a true show of friendship Griff helped chair Cole up the beach but could only make it half way up the steps before Cole’s dad had to sub in. Unsurprising given Griff’s slightly smaller 5”11 and 78kg stature, in comparison to Cole who sits over 90kg.

Griff goes into WA in pole position and Cole’s focus will shift from survival to trying to crack the top five.

As the Brazilian Storm barely registers a drizzle there is not a single South American in the top fifteen of the men’s leader board. Meanwhile, there are four Californians in the top ten (five if you count Kanoa who did all his surfing there growing up). SoCal girl Caity Simmers tops the women’s rankings and the dreams of Californication are coming true for the two-percenters.    

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
SUBSCRIBE TO TRACKS
A bi-monthly eclectic tome of tangible surfing goodness that celebrates all things surfing, delivered to your door!
SUBSCRIBE NOW
HAPPENINGS
Your portal to cultural events happening in and around the surfing sphere.
Find Events
SUBSCRIBE TO TRACKS
A bi-monthly eclectic tome of tangible surfing goodness that celebrates all things surfing, delivered to your door!
SUBSCRIBE NOW
HAPPENINGS
Your portal to cultural events happening in and around the surfing sphere.
Find Events

LATEST

Kelly Slater's post heat interview in what could be his last ever heat on the CT as a full time competitor.

The deadly game of two-wheeled chance.

Autumn has well and truly arrived in Australia.

Stand up tubes, menacing wipeouts, the evil Shippies step and edge of your seat surfing.

ADVERTISEMENT

PREMIUM FEATURES

The distilled surfing memories of Dave Sparkes.

Peter Townsend with G&S

"Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."

TRACKS PREMIUM

Get full access to every feature from our print issues, read classic Tracks issues from the 70s, 80s and 90’s, watch all of our classic films & more …

TRACKS PREMIUM

Get full access to every feature from our print issues, read classic Tracks issues from the 70s, 80s and 90’s, watch all of our classic films & more …

CLASSIC ISSUES

A threat to Angourie, the death of vibes, and a tongue in cheek guide on how to become a surf star.

PREMIUM FILM

YEAR: 2008
STARRING: JOEL PARKINSON, MICK FANNING AND DEAN MORRISON

This is the last time the original cooly kids were captured together and features some of their best surfing.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

PRINT STORE

Unmistakable and iconic, the Tracks covers from the 70s & 80s are now ready for your walls.

Tracks
Kandui Resort Interstitial