I was asking myself at the beginning of Bells what has happened to Courtney Conlogue? Well as quickly as the thought crossed my mind, Courtney mounted her comeback. The fearsome American competitor slashed her way through some serious heats and created the kind of classic Bells moments that warrant reflection.  

Courtney showing full commitment to the rail.

Courtney’s big Bells moments:

The paddle battle against Carissa Moore.

Bells is a long point and the paddle is seriously challenging for amateurs and pros alike. I liked that the event forced the pros to paddle the point in the quarters and semis. It gives the competition room for defining moments in the event. Courtney really staked her claim for her back-to-back Bell’s win in her quarterfinal; putting her head down and out-paddling one of the strongest competitors on tour to secure priority and subsequently the wave and the score.

Never has a paddle battle been so enthralling and Courtney’s superior fitness proved crucial in the ultimate result.

Taking out Tyler.

Courtney had nerves of steel. Sitting on a solid 0.00 with 9 minutes to go she swung and stroked into a 9-point ride, Tyler went for broke on a bumpy bomb and buckled her board, leaving the tenacious American out the back alone with the ocean, and that’s where Courtney is oh so dangerous. With mere minutes remaining she went on a set wave and dropped a massive 9.33. Taking out last year’s world champ in what was essentially a 9-minute heat with two nine point rides.

The final with Steph

Courtney clips the horns of the girl GOAT (Steph Gilmore) and what a final it was. The girls were dealt a tricky hand, with a rising tide and a slight onshore breeze bumping up the surface of the water. Still, they went blow for blow with Steph getting the better of the first exchange. The style of Steph shone through and one turn may have been the single best move of the event. However, like every final, there is one wave that is better than any other that rolls through the line-up. Today Courtney was the surfer who had priority at the right time and the composure to capitalise on her opportunity.

Courtney floating to victory over Steph Gilmore in the final of the Rip Curl Women's Pro. All photos WSL

So Courtney has made her comeback and re-emerged as a threat on this extremely talented women’s tour. The stage is set for a big year and a tough title race for the chicks. Steph leaves Australia in the yellow jersey, but she will have to back it up in Brazil to stop the Courtney’s, Tyler’s and Sally’s from dethroning the queen. In the words of king Kelly “the surfing the girls have put on has come a long way.” It’s an exciting time for women’s surfing and the year is starting to get spicy.

In case you didn’t catch the numbers, less than a point separated the two finalists.

Courtney Conlogue – 8.00 + 9.00 = 17.00

Stephanie Gilmore – 8.33 + 8.00 = 16.33