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Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: Preview

rip curl pro bells beach 2008The more things change the more they stay the same…

As the 2008 ASP Tour moves from Snapper Rocks to Bells Beach there is an all too familiar name atop the standings. With the much of the build-up to the Quiksilver Pro heavily centered around so many others, Kelly Slater decided to remind us that as long as he decides to show up he is the favorite for any event. Again, that is as long as he decides to show up. There is still no confirmation of Kelly’s decision and we may just have to wait until the opening horn of his 1st round heat to find out if he will be among those looking to ring the famed bell when the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach comes to an end.

In a normal year on tour, average results through these first two Australia stops would still leave the top surfers with plenty of opportunities to make up ground throughout the rest of the year. 2008, however, is by no means an average year. With the number of surfers with legitimate title hopes as high as ever, there is an element of added pressure to finish well at Bells and hopefully come out on top.

This is currently the position that defending Bells champ and last years overall #2 Taj Burrow finds himself in. He was surfing as well as ever at Snapper until his perplexing round 4 ousting at the hands of goofy-footer Adrian Buchan. Taj made it very clear at the beginning of the year that it is world-title or bust for him. With that being the case, he is going to need to come out firing at Bells and hope for a repeat performance of last years victory.

So what can we expect to see at Bells this year? 6 out of the last 7 Bells winners have come from the Slater, Burrow, Andy Irons, Joel Parkinson, and Mick Fanning group. This is a trend that is likely to continue as these are the surfers with the best shot at winning it all in this ultra-competitive year. Mick just got married over the weekend so it will be interesting to see how well he is able to stay focused following his tying of the knot. Parko and A.I. held their own at Snapper with 5th place finishes, but they will both be looking to improve on those results at Bells.

Outside of the ‘usual suspects’ there is no one on tour who has experienced the taste of victory at Bells. That doesn’t mean we won’t have a 1st time winner, but given what is at stake I don’t see it happening. Bede Durbidge and Jeremy Flores seem to be the two with the best chance of ringing the bell for their first time. From the last half of 2007 until now, there are few who have surfed as impressively as Durbidge has. Flores went down to Slater in the semi’s at Snapper, and reportedly went straight to Bells to prepare for the contest. I would be surprised, but not shocked if either of those two found their way into a Bells Final.

The forecast for Bells has event organizers licking their lips. However, we heard the same thing over at Snapper, but not a whole lot ever materialized in the form of swell. It was good, but by no means great. Hopefully higher quality surf will make its way to Bells Beach as we move throughout the week. As incredible of a competition as Snapper was, the added pressure of producing a solid result at Bells is only going to raise the bar that much higher.

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Posted by Shaun on Monday, March 17th, 2008 in Surfing.

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