31 March, 2015 31 March, 2015

Battle for the Bell (Preview: Rip Curl Pro)

We are less than 24 hours away from the start of the second event of this year’s World Surf League Dream Tour; the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.

Bells, on song!

Held annually over the Easter period, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach remains one of the most prestigious events on the Dream Tour. The only problem is that it’s held annually over the Easter period, which, if it falls early in April as it does this year, is not the best time to guarantee good surf at Bells.

After the underwhelming waves on offer at the season-opening Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, another event contested in below average surf is not what the WSL doctor ordered. Unfortunately, apart from the opening day, the forecast isn’t looking too promising. Bells Beach is at its best when the swell is 6-foot and over. With nothing in that range expected for the opening few days, we could be in for another long wait after a quick start in head high surf. But Neptune is unpredictable, so we remain hopeful that something in the long range forecast gets a shake-up and surprises us.

Filipe Toledo fires when the waves aren’t firing. Recap of his win in Sao Paulo.

One surfer who we suspect won’t be too fazed by the less than promising forecast is Filipe Toledo, winner of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and current ratings leader. Is there a better small wave surfer in the world currently? A quick look at his CV will show you recent wins at Huntington Beach and at Sao Paulo in less than stellar surf, which, along with his victory at Snapper, suggests no there probably is not. If the swell does show up for the later rounds, however, then we’ll be in for a show as the big guns start to fire.

Bells can be a tricky wave to master, and with 10 Bells titles between them, Mick Fanning (3), Kelly Slater (4) and Joel Parkinson (3) will be good bets if the swell gets bigger. All three former world champs have the full rail game needed to win at Bells when it’s pumping. Another with good rail work is Jordy Smith, who surfs Bells Beach better than most when it’s on. Many expected Jordy to take the title last year, but his campaign, as we all now know, ended in controversy. Requiring a Perfect 10 (actually a 9.97) to win, Jordy earned an eleven, but was only rewarded a 9.93 from the judges and was eliminated.

Jordy’s 9.93 at last year’s Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

Since 2007 the Rip Curl Women’s Pro title has only been shared between four surfers; Carissa Moore is the reigning Bells champ and also took the title in 2013. Sally Fitzgibbons won in 2012 and 2011, while current world champ, Stephanie Gilmore, has rung the Bell three times (in 2007, 2008 and 2010). The only other surfer to get her name on the famous Bells trophy in that time is 2009 champ, Silvana Lima, the diminutive Brazilian who made her return to the Dream Tour this year. These four, along with 2014 world title runner-up, Tyler Wright, will be favourites to take out this year’s event. We’re yet to learn whether Bianca Buitendag will be competing at Bells. Sadly her father passed away last week.

Tune in to worldsurfleague.com from 1 April to watch the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach live.

Here is the official event teaser to whet your appetite:

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