American surfers Cole Houshmand and Caitlin Simmers claim Rip Curl Pro titles at Bells Beach

American surfers Cole Houshmand and Caitlin Simmers claim Rip Curl Pro titles at Bells Beach
  • PublishedApril 4, 2024

Rookie Cole Houshmand and teen sensation Caitlin Simmers have made it a southern Californian double, winning their maiden Rip Curl Pro titles on a dramatic finals day at Bells Beach.

Houshmand beat his close friend and San Clemente neighbour Griffin Colapinto 13.50-12.80 in the men’s final. Colapinto came into the fourth stop of the 2024 World Surf League season sitting atop the rankings, having won the previous event in Portugal.

But it was the 23-year-old Houshmand who emerged victorious on Wednesday, becoming only the third men’s goofy-footer this century to salute at the storied Bells break.

Cole Houshmand
Rookie Cole Houshmand took out the men’s title at Bell’s Beach.(Getty Images: Aaron Hughes/World Surf League)

“This is unreal. I honestly don’t think it’s going to sink in for a while,” Houshmand said.

“I’ve been visualising this every day for the last two weeks, ringing that bell, and I guess it works.

“It’s been a lot of hard work. I’m speechless.”

Simmers left it late before edging past France’s Johanne Defay 12.77-11.60 in the women’s final.

The 18-year-old caught what turned out to be the decisive wave with only 15 seconds remaining.

“I was thinking on my last wave that this could be it,” Simmers said, who replaces Defay at the top of the world rankings heading into the next round at Margaret River.

“I’d just got my other wave so my legs were hurting.

“I was paddling as fast as I could and I was almost too late for it.

“In this sport you always have to believe in yourself. That stuff happens.”

Simmers edged defending world champion and fellow American Caroline Marks in the semis, while Houshmand ousted South African Matthew McGillivray to advance to the men’s decider.

After two successive lay days, a marked improvement in conditions prompted organisers to resume competition in clean four-to-six-foot waves.


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