Aussies Ewing, Cibilic, Harrison bow out at Bells

John Salvado |

Defending champ Ethan Ewing has bowed out in the quarter-finals of the 2024 Rip Curl Pro.
Defending champ Ethan Ewing has bowed out in the quarter-finals of the 2024 Rip Curl Pro.

Australian surfer Ethan Ewing’s title defence at the Rip Curl Pro has come to a luckless end as the ocean went flat at Bells Beach in his quarter-final loss to Cole Houshmand.

American Houshmand got off to a flying start, pinching what turned out to be the only excellent wave off Ewing in their Easter Sunday quarter-final and earning a 9.07 score from the judges.

Ewing only had one wave in the 30-minute heat as Houshmand went on to claim a 13.84-6.00 victory.

“You don’t really know sometimes if the first exchange is going to matter,” said the 23-year-old Bells debutant.

“We kind of went deep, I went wide. He let me have it and the wave just went.

“I was only looking one turn in front of me, trying not to get too ahead of myself, and the thing just kept going.

“(Then) sitting out there for that long, 30 minutes felt like two years and I was kind of tripping – but stoked at what went my way.”

Ewing had further cause to rue his luck as the following quarter-final between world No.1 Griffin Colapinto and fellow American Jake Marshall was a high-scoring affair featuring a host of big waves.

But with conditions expected to worsen further as the afternoon wore on, organisers called the action off for the day after the quarter-final stage.

The men’s and women’s titles will now be decided on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

Morgan Cibilic rides at Bells Beach.
Morgan Cibilic bowed out of the Rip Curl Pro at the quarter-final stage on Sunday. (HANDOUT/WORLD SURF LEAGUE)

There won’t be an Australian name carved on either Bells trophy in 2024, after Morgan Cibilic and women’s wildcard Ellie Harrison bowed out at the quarter-final stage along with Ewing.

Instead, the men’s semis will have a decidedly southern Californian flavour, with Colapinto and Houshmand through to last four along with South African Matthew McGillivray and Indonesia’s Rio Waida.

In the women’s event, local teenager Harrison’s giant-killing run came to an end at the hands of French world No.1 Johanne Defay.

Making her Championship Tour debut, the 18-year-old Harrison had taken down Australian superstars Molly Picklum and Tyler Wright earlier in the competition.

Harrison’s opening effort of 6.93 was the highest single-wave score of the quarter-final, but the experienced Defay did enough to win the overall contest 12.13-10.86.

Ellie Harrison.
Ellie Harrison (pictured) knocked out Molly Picklum and Tyler Wright on her run to the last eight. (HANDOUT/WORLD SURF LEAGUE)

“It has been the most amazing experience and I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” said Harrison, who is from the nearby beachside town of Barwon Heads.

“Hopefully I’ll get more opportunities to be here.

“It was a good heat with Johanne; she’s an amazing surfer so it’s not bad to bow out to her.”

With the home crowd willing her on, Harrison took off on one last wave in the dying seconds of her quarter-final.

But it was not big enough to give her the score she needed to overtake Defay, who advanced to the semi-finals at Bells Beach for the first time.

Defay will take on Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy in the semi-finals.

The other semi will be an all-American affair between Caitlin Simmers and reigning world champion Caroline Marks.

Marks edged past Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb 11.94-11.76 and teen sensation Simmers downed Hawaiian Gabriela Bryan 15.50-14.07.