UPDATE, APRIL 22, 6:03 P.M.: Santa Ana's Courtney Conlogue continues her impressive rookie performance on the ASP World Tour, as she has qualified for the quarterfinals of the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Australia. The women's event is expected to wrap up today, with the conditions looking quite classic. You can watch it live.
Unfortunately, both of the male OC hopefuls–Brett Simpson and Pat Gudauskas–were eliminated in the early-goings. Simpson had a rough heat in Round 2, managing only a two-wave score of 5.0 in a losing effort to Floridian Gabe Kling. Gudauskas lasted only a bit longer, losing in Round 3 to Tahitian Michel Bourez.
Both Simpson and Gudauskas will be catching flights back to OC and are scheduled to compete in the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro at Trestles, May 3-7.
Gudauskas got his 2011 campaign off to a slow start with an equal-25th finish (losing in Round 2 at Snapper Rocks). Pat is the oldest of the three uber-talented Gudauskas brothers; Tanner and Dane are competing on the World Qualifying Series in hopes of making it to the Big Dance.
While Gudauskas struggled in the first event, Simpson managed to work his way up to the quarterfinals, before falling to perennial world championship contender, Taj Burrow. The equal-5th finish was Simpson's best world tour result.
The pair of OC standout surfers will have the young, talented Brazilian, Jadson Andre to fill out the three-man heat. No one is eliminated in the first round, but the heat winner skips
ahead to Round 3. Considering the aerial proficiency of all three surfers, and Bells Beach's fast, sloping faces, new-age surfing will surely be on display.
Also competing at Bells Beach will be Santa Ana's Courtney Conlogue, who has quite the heralded bit of competition in her Round 1 heat. As if having to contend with the four-time defending world champ, Australian Stephanie Gilmore, wasn't enough, Conlogue will also have one of the biggest names in women's surfing in her heat as well: Bethany Hamilton. Hamilton doesn't have any world titles on her shelf, but she does have quite the inspirational story, which is the subject of the recently-released feature film, “Soul Surfer.” In October 2003, while surfing with a few friends at a break in Kauai, a 14-foot tiger shark bit off Hamilton's left arm.
Conlogue is a rookie on the women's world tour, but had a solid introduction in her first event,
finishing equal-9th, after losing to the eventual contest winner, Carissa Moore. A few weeks later, Conlogue won a 6-star World Qualifying Series event in Australia.
If one of the three Orange County surfers does manage to reach Collins-like status at Bells Beach, they'll be awarded the massive trophy that has a bell hanging, and will be expected to shake it hard for all to hear. Here's hoping that either Conlogue, Guduaskas or Simpson will have to figure out how to fit that beast of a trophy into their carry-on luggage.
Every heat of the Bells Beach event for both the men and the women will be live on the Rip Curl webcast. Enjoy.