Owen Wright begins Bells mission with impressive win
WORLD No.2 Owen Wright has expressed relief at starting his mission to ring the famous Rip Curl Pro bell trophy for the first time with a victory at Bells Beach.
The Australian, on the comeback from a head injury which sidelined him for over a year, posted a score of 14.67 to advance directly into round three.
"It was a bit slow out there with a few lulls so it's nice to have got the win," Wright said.
"It's always good to get that first heat over and won. It gives you that breathing space. Round two is not where you ever want to be."
Wright, who made a fairytale return to surfing from a potentially life-threatening injury with his win in the opening world tour event of the year on the Gold Coast last month, beat Brazilian Miguel Pupo and Hawaiian Ezekial Lau in 1-1.5m waves.
On Saturday Matt Wilkinson also made a victorious return to Bells Beach, the scene of his greatest ever victories a year ago.
The defending Rip Curl Pro champion beat three-time winner Mick Fanning and Brazilian Jadson Andre for his win in the opening heat of the annual event.
Last year Wilkinson won his first ever Bells Beach event which sent him overseas wearing the world No.1 ranking in surfing.
It is a feat he hopes to repeat at a venue with very special memories.
"There is just something about Bells. It's so special with all this history here," he said. Fanning must now surf for survival in round two of the world tour event.
Avoca's Ace Buchan also advanced directly into round three with other notable victors on day one if the men's competition including Kelly Slater and Hawaiian world champion John John Florence.