Byron surfer Wilkinson takes out Rip Curl Pro
BYRON BAY-based surfer Matt Wilkinson took out the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach yesterday, using his electric backhand to best South African Jordy Smith in the final.
The last day was surfed in solid six- to 10-foot (2m-3m) waves at the iconic venue in Victoria.
Bells is the second stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour and Wilkinson's victory was the first there for a goofy-footer since former world champion Mark Occhilupo won it in 1998.
After winning the tour's first event on the Gold Coast, the young Australian has gone back-to-back to start the year.
Wilkinson will head to the Margaret River Pro in WA this week with a stunning points lead.
In the Bells Beach final yesterday, Wilkinson and Smith exchanged huge scores.
Wilkinson unleashed his strong backhand to deliver vertical snaps, earning him scores of 9.20 points and 8.17.
Smith replied with a 14.16 two-wave combined score but it was not enough to beat the Australian's 17.37.
"I have been trying to win everywhere forever and it has never happened, and this year I seem to keep picking up trophies, which is making me feel pretty good," Wilkinson said.
"I am so happy to be at Bells. I've been coming to this event for so long, and I've always wanted to win it. I finally got my chance.
"If you improve 10% in 10 different areas in your surfing, you are going to be 100% better.
"I am on great boards, I feel fit, my surfing feels really good and I am making smarter decisions."
Wilkinson blasted through his semi-final against Brazilian Italo Ferreira, the 2015 Rookie of the Year.
RIP CURL PRO
Matt Wilkinson (Aust) 17.37 d Jordy Smith (Sth Africa) 14.16
Matt Wilkinson (Aust) 17.27 d Italo Ferreira (Brazil) 12.40
Jordy Smith (Sth Africa) 17.17 d Mick Fanning (Aust) 13.90
Italo Ferreira (Brazil) 15.30 d
Nat Young (US) 12.33
Matt Wilkinson (Aust) 13.26 d Wiggolly Dantas (Brazil) 12.00
Mick Fanning (Aust) 16.90 d Conner Coffin (US) 16.17
Jordy Smith (Sth Africa) 17.77 d Michel Bourez (Tahiti) 17.26
1. Matt Wilkinson (Aust) 20,000
2. Conner Coffin (USA) 9200
3. Jordy Smith (Sth Africa) 8500
3. Kolohe Andino (USA) 8500
5. Mick Fanning (Aust) 8250
5. Italo Ferreira (Brazil) 8250
5. Stuart Kennedy (Aust) 8250