Competitors heading out for a heat at the first contest at Bells Beach on Australia Day (January 26th) 1962. Originally set to run on New Year's Eve 1961, a lack of surf that day saw it postponed for almost a month. In 1963 the contest dates changed and it was given a waiting period to run in the best waves over the Easter weekend. Called the Bells Beach Rally and continuing every Easter until 1972, it eventually attracted competitors from all over Australia and was widely regarded as the most significant competition in the country alongside the annual National Titles. In 1973, the founders of a fledgling Torquay-based surf company called Rip Curl thought it would be a good idea to put up $2,000 prizemoney to turn the Easter contest into Australia's first "professional" surfing event. The prizemoney and name change to the Rip Curl Pro attracted two overseas competitors, both from Hawaii, to take on this country’s best. Helping to pioneer the establishment of a world professional championship circuit in 1976, almost half a century later Bells still runs over Easter with a waiting period, Rip Curl remains the major sponsor and it is the longest running annual competition in the world.