With the ASP Tour making the transition from Snapper Rocks to Bell’s Beach we have seen a big part of what makes the tour so great year after year. Each stop provides unique conditions that pose new challenges.
In the early rounds at Bell’s we have seen a stark contrast in conditions with those that presented themselves for the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. We have gone from endless 2-4ft. waves giving competitors unlimited opportunities (Taj Burrow’s mind-blowing 13 turn wave at Snapper for example) to score, to thick, unruly, doubled up 6-8ft. walls with limited sections to open up on. Each wave at Bell’s may present only 2 or 3 opportunities to let it fly. The surfers that have taken advantage of that by placing themselves in the right section at the right time have found themselves with massive scores. As we await the completion of Round 3 at Bell’s, here are some of the story lines to keep an eye on-
Mick Fanning – By having to surf in the second round, the reigning world-champion found himself in a very unusual position. By posting a meager 7.24 score in Rd. 1, Fanning found himself in a spot he hasn’t been in for 15 events- Rd. 2. I was curious to see how he would perform as he spent the weekend leading up to Bell’s strapping on the proverbial ball and chain. He righted the ship in Rd. 2 however, and now faces a tough third round match-up with Bell’s local Troy Brooks.
Kelly Slater – This really goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – Kelly put on a clinic. The amount of speed he generated from his bottom turn on his 9.5 is almost unfathomable. “I didn’t do a whole lot on that wave,” Slater said. “I did one turn to start off with and then this section loomed up ahead of me that was crazy – it was so smooth, especially for what’s out there. I had a ton of speed and I held the bottom turn as long as I could and was able to get that carve in. It reminded me of the turn I had in the final against Parko (Joel Parkinson) that one year.” The 35 yr old 8-timer is aging like wine and showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Dane Reynolds – Dane’s putting up a 9.73 in Rd. 2 was amazing. His humility and attitude when talking about the score even more so. “I got pretty lucky,” Reynolds said of his heat against Alves. “I went out there with a good, positive attitude feeling like the waves were going to come my way and they did. I didn’t see another wave out there that looked like the ones I got, so I was pretty fortunate.” With Jordy going out, this leaves Reynolds as the feature rookie at Bell’s and it will be intriguing to see if he can keep this level of performance going.
Bruce Irons – It’s hard to say what’s going on with Bruce. The bottom line is he is way too talented of a surfer to consistently be going out in the early rounds. He seemed particularly disinterested in his third round loss to Adrian Buchan at Snapper. How sick would it be to see him go the path of Jamie O’brien and just completely dedicate himself to the freestyle thing? Those two alone are surfing as progressively as any, and would serve as worthy pioneers for a new freestyle movement for surfing.
Here are the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 2: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 3: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Neco Padaratz (BRA)
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Daniel Wills (AUS)
Heat 5: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs.Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Jay Thompson (AUS)
Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Troy Brooks (AUS)
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 10: Luke Stedman (AUS) vs. Ben Dunn (AUS)
Heat 11: Pancho Sullivan (HAW) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 12: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 13: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Jihad Khodr (BRA)
Heat 14: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Tim Reyes (USA)
Heat 15: Andy Irons (HAW) vs. Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA)
Heat 16: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Luke Munro (AUS)