n surfer Mick Fanning has made a solid start to his swan song at the Rip Curl Pro.Surfing great Mick Fanning has made a solid start to his swan song Rip Curl Pro, while fellow Aussie Sally Fitzgibbons suffered an upset in the sudden-death second round.
Three-time Bells winner Fanning beat Sebastian Zietz and Brazilian Jesse Mendes in his opening heat on Saturday to book a place in third round, where he’ll face Zietz again after the Hawaiian went on to dispatch Brazil’s Ian Gouveia.
Fanning’s impending retirement means he’s the top drawcard at Bells Beach this year and he was mobbed after his opening-heat win.
“It’s so awesome to have so much support down here at Bells and to have my family and friends around is great,” Fanning said.
“I’m stoked to get through that heat. It definitely wasn’t my best but it will do for now.”
On a day of 1.5-2.4m waves, the four-time world champion was running last nearing the halfway mark of the heat.
But Fanning then posted solid 6.60 and 6.43 wave scores to total 13.03 over Mendes (11.27) and Zietz (10.70).
Frederico Morais next faces n Joel Parkinson after the Portuguese beat Michael February, whose board broke in half during his heat, forcing the unlucky South African to return to the beach to replace his equipment.
Brazil’s Adriano de Souza found himself in a rare round two match-up but managed to avoid early elimination at the hands of Aussie wildcard Mikey McDonagh.
In the women’s event, wildcard Kobie Enright upset fellow n Fitzgibbons, eliminating the 2017 World Title contender in the second round.
Enright next takes on ‘s Nikki van Dijk and Hawaiian Carissa Moore.
Six-time WSL champion Stephanie Gilmore continued her domination of the Rip Curl Pro, beating New Zealand’s Paige Hareb to book a place against Johanne Defay of France and Hawaiian Coco Ho.