Wills 3rd at Bells
By Steve Spinks
Byron Bay surfer Danny Wills fell just short of ringing the famous bell after finishing equal third in the World Championship Tour Rip Curl Pro.
The event is usually held at Bells Beach and the winner traditionally rings the bell trophy.
However, poor conditions meant the tournament was shifted to Phillip Island's Woolamai Beach.
Wills was knocked out by the eventual winner Trent Munro, of Scotts Head, in a semi-final.
Munro defeated defending world champion Andy Irons in the final.
"It wasn't too bad, eh ... I'm pretty happy," Wills said of his third placing.
"I was a bit unlucky, the surf was getting hard towards the end of the day with the tide filling up, it was harder to choose the right waves.
"You had to be patient and wait for the right wave.
"I did that, but I pushed too hard and fell on possibly the wave that would have got me into the final.
"I can't be dirty on anyone but myself."
Munro's 17.23 was enough to knock Wills (14.67) out.
After the initial disappointment of missing the final, Wills said equal third was his best finish in more than a year.
His previous semi-final was in Japan in 2003.
On his way to the semi-final, Wills knocked out Billabong Pro runner-up Chris Ward (US) and highly-rated Gold Coaster Joel Parkinson.
He will head back to Byron Bay for the weekend before the World Qualifying Series Surfest in Newcastle.
"The next WCT event is not until May in Tahiti, so I don't want to get too lazy for a month," Wills said.
"There's 11 events to go and I want to maintain my focus and fitness."