The second World Surfing League (WSL) Championship Tour event begins Tuesday with the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
Stephanie Gilmore opens tied with the best odds to win the women's event (+325), while John John Florence is surprisingly tied as the early favorite for the men.
Gilmore Going for Another
It’s easy to see why Gilmore is favored to win the Rip Curl Pro this season, as she has won the Victoria, Australia, women’s event four times including last year.
Gilmore has also finished as a runner-up in four other years, making her a likely candidate to go far in this tournament.
Her odds to reach the final round are currently +155, while she has a decent chance to make the semifinals at –167.
Gilmore’s Rip Curl Pro win last year ended an American’s reign in Victoria, as a surfer from the USA or Hawaii won five straight before last season.
Courtney Conlogue won back-to-back years in 2016-17, as Carissa Moore won three years in a row prior to that.
Currently, Conlogue’s odds to win are at +550, while Moore is tied with Gilmore’s odds to win it all.
The Hawaiian is the only other female (besides Gilmore) to have odds above 50 percent to reach the semifinals (-152).
Moore is actually favored to win the Women’s WSL World Championship at +260, which is about 10 percent higher than Gilmore’s current odds (+450).
Long Shots to Consider
Sally Fitzgibbons enters the event with underwhelming odds (+1000) to win. A bit surprising considering she has won this event twice in the past.
She also finished as a runner-up in 2016, falling short to Conlogue by only .10 points.
Perhaps Caroline Marks would be an intriguing play as well, winning the WSL’s last Championship Tour event at the Pro Gold Coast.
Marks has never won or placed second in this event, but she did defeat Moore in the last event this season.
Concern for Men’s Favorites
It’s very surprising to see the iconic John John Florence as the early favorite, considering he has never won this event before.
Florence has never finished as a runner-up at the Rip Curl Pro either, as his +550 odds are somewhat concerning.
Filipe Toledo, who is tied with JJ for the best opening odds, has also never won this event or even placed second.
Past champions Italo Ferreira and Jordy Smith may be better options to consider, as they are tied for the third-best odds at +650.
Is the Favorite Ferreira?
Ferreira seems unstoppable during the early part of the WSL season.
Ferreira won this event last year and won the first event of 2019 during the Pro Gold Coast.
He also won last year’s upcoming event in Indonesia.
In last year’s Rip Curl Pro, he defeated Mick Fanning despite losing the first wave.
Fanning topped Ferreira during the first run but it was Ferreira who won the second run by 4 points which were enough to win the trophy.
Despite not being favored to repeat in Victoria, Ferreira does have the best odds to win the Men’s WSL World Championship (+300).
A top-two finish this weekend would help propel those odds even further.