Senior Editor

The Inertia

Maybe we’ll finally have a California-native win a world title in 2024, something that hasn’t happened since Tom Curren in 1990? And if not, well, surf fans of the state can celebrate a sweep at Bells Beach, something that hasn’t happened, maybe ever? Cole Houshmand, who fought through a killer’s row to make the mid-season-cut, and Caity Simmers, whose legacy continues to balloon, took out Bells Beach yesterday. (Richie Collins in 1992 and Courtney Conlogue in 2019 were the last men’s and women’s winners from the Golden State.)

For San Clemente’s Houshmand, good friend of fellow finalist Griffin Colapinto, he was fighting for his tour life after only mustering a ninth as his highest finish in 2024. The kid did not blink, facing Gabriel Medina in a controversial heat, and winning, then Ethan Ewing, and Mathew McGillivray before beting Colapinto in the final. The victory secured his place on tour next season in one fell swoop.

Along with Colapinto and Houshmand, Ewing, John John Florence, Jake Marshall (an utter surprise in the top five), Jack Robinson, Barron Mamiya, Kanoa Igarashi, Crosby Colapinto and Jordy Smith have all secured their spots on the 2025 tour. Twelve spots remain up in the air with Western Australia looming, with the biggest name hovering at the cutline being Medina’s, at 20 (they keep 22).

On the women’s side Simmers solidified herself in the yellow jersey with her second event win of the year. But just barely. The waves during the window, and especially on finals day, certainly weren’t all-time Bells (a rare thing), and were mostly predictable, with an opening hit on the steepest part of the section, followed by corrective turns into a final closeout hit. Fans mostly expect Caity to ignite and excite in stellar waves. She had to get her grovel on this week. And nothing personified that more than her final wave to defeat Johanne Defay in the final.

As wrapped up nicely by Kaipo Guerrero, above, Defay, in her second final in a row, definitely controlled the heat. But Simmers kept it close enough. With under a minute, and Defay with priority, Caity baited the her into a nothing burger, taking off on the wave behind it with 15 seconds. She took advantage, and the win with the call coming after the clock had expired.

Defay and Simmers are of course easily past the cutline heading to Margies, along with Molly Picklum, Bettylou Sakura Johnson, Caroline Marks and Brisa Hennessey. Four spots remain heading into the first half’s final event with some recognizable names below the cut, including Lakey Peterson and Sally Fitzgibbons, who is on the verge of being cut for the second year in a row.

Plenty of drama as we head to the other side of the Australian continent.


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