10 April, 2018 10 April, 2018

Bells Hot or Not

Who’s Hot Who’s Not?
A list of who’s hot and who ain’t so hot after the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast is always an awkward event. The rookies come out the gates swinging. Guns a-blazing. They go into every turn like it’s their last, throwing the fins and taking huge amounts of risk. They’ve acquired their dreams and ain’t nobody under the lord’s sun taking it away from them. And what helps them, rookies is that Snapper Rocks seems like a fairly easy wave to surf. I mean it’s no Fiji, JBay or Pipeline. You can pretty much just rock up there and surf it. Bells, on the other hand, is a different beast. You gotta know it to surf it. The Bells Bowl favours those who have spent time with her. Those who have taken her out on a couple dates, who’ve wooed her with flowers and heart-shaped chocolates and it was evident in the results. The only rookie who made it past round three was Wade Carmichael, and Wade’s probably surfed numerous junior events on the bowl growing up. Anyway, enough of that, here’s who’s hot and who’s not.

Photographer: Kelly Cestari

Connor O’Leary
At most locations, Connor O’Leary’s backhand looks great. Electric in fact. When he transitions his board from a vertical position in the lip, back down, you can almost hear the board make a whipping sound. Like he just gave a wave six of the best back before corporal punishment was out ruled. But for some reason, Connor’s backhand looks eggy on the Bells Bowl. Connor’s boards and approach suits waves on the east coast but put him in the southern ocean and he looks a bit off balance. Those long narrow boards that look gorgeous in the bowly sand bottom points on the east coast look boggy and awkward in the southern ocean. It’s like doing and off-the-lip at New Pier and then using the same approach to banging the lip at Long Beach. It’s just not the same.
Warming Up:
Wade Carmichael
Wade reminds us of Gimli the dwarf from the Lord of the Rings. He’s like a nuggety, bearded beefcake, carrying an axe around, swinging that thing at everything anything that stands in his way. Wade’s got a delightful rail game. When he puts his board on the rail, he couldn’t care less about the next turn let alone the rest of the wave. It’s like there are a couple Orcs blocking his path and beautiful elf women on the other side. He’ll swing that axe as long as it takes to get the score. And it’s a damn pleasure to witness. Bearded Wade in Jesus sandals going ham on the lip. 
Wade got knocked in round 4 by Owen and Michel, but the dwarf axe is just sharpening up. 

Photographer: Ed Sloane/ Surfer: Patrick Gudauskas

Patrick Gudauskas 
Patty G had a stellar run through the Bells Bowl. If he’s gonna get knocked off the dream tour, he’s sure as hell going to make it a heated battle for his competitors. The transition from head judge Richie Porta to Pritamo Ahrendt has worked nicely in Patty G’s favour. Where Porta almost seemed to care more about what you did between major manoeuvres, Ahrendt cares about the actual event. Where Porta probably despised Patty’s flailing limbs and twitches and pumps, Pritamo sees through the noise and digests the turns. And this sits fine with the Good Vibe Warrior. Cause Pat ain’t afraid of taking risks. And Pritamo ain’t afraid of rewarding them. There weren’t many waves where it didn’t seem like Patty might fall on a turn, and it’s wonderful to see risk meet reward.  

Photographer: Ed Sloane/ Surfer: Italo Ferreira

Italo Ferriera 
When Italo qualified for the dream tour, Mick Fanning quickly touted him as a possible future world champ. And suddenly Mick’s claims regarding the Italian Ferrari don’t seem so far-fetched. Italo surfs better on the Bells Bowl than most people mind surf the Bells Bowl. In his quarterfinal heat against Zeke Lau, Italo put on a display of backhand surfing we’d never seen on the Bells Bowl ever before. releasing the fins on end sections that didn’t seem mathematically plausible, but somehow, the Italian Ferrari found a way.
Italo believes in himself. To the next degree. You can put Italo in the worst position to get a score. An 8ft foam roll intake off, (everybody hates those!) and Italo will somehow emerge from the whitewater with speed, and straight into a vertical bang. He’s like an entrepreneur who believes in his idea so fervently, he’ll take out a bond against his house to bail his business out. And that’s what world champions are made of.

Photographer: Kelly Cestari/ Surfer: Mick Fanning

Mick Fanning:
What a splendid way to end a career. Mick Fanning’s swan song ends on a high note (Wow, a string of clichés). But it’s the truth. Bells Beach was the place were Mick started his professional career so many years prior with a win as a wildcard, and to end his career with a second, at the place it all began, it couldn’t really get much more idyllic. Mick was on fire throughout the entire event. He surfed smart, he surfed fast and he chose the right waves. It’s almost a shame to see a world title competitor end his career so abruptly, but isn’t that the way we all wanna go? Leaving the audience wanting more? #CheersMick

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