You can more or less put me in the expert bracket when it comes to this event because I’ve been there in person the past two years and watched every single heat live from the beach, or at least live from the VIP Beer Garden. Although I won’t be there for the third straight year (I’ll instead be on a luxury catamaran gliding through the Mentawais), you can believe I’m gonna set your fantasy team up for success. Here we go! —Words and photos by Jimmicane
This dude is a straight up gangster when it comes to surfing Bells. I don’t think anyone can really fuck with him out there. He’s won it twice already and will be a favorite to ring the bell for a third time if they end up with decent swell and actually run the event at Bells Beach. I wouldn’t necessarily put money on him at the backup locations, but because last year had such heinous luck with surf conditions, and this being the 50th year, Rip Curl will do everything possible to run heats in the main arena that is Bells Bowl. Parko’s style complements this wave better than anyone else on tour in my opinion.
Typically I try to stay away from picking this guy because he’s from Cocoa Beach, yet is somehow a Lakers fan #WTF. That, and the fact that he was the only person in the entire contest who didn’t attend the end of event party last year. Note: The lamest thing you can ever do is winning a contest then not even go to your own party. Major Core Score points deduction for that one. In the words of Ben Bourgeois, “I party harder than that dude for winning a 1-star.” However, in this case I cannot deny the man. Kelly won’t win this year because he only does that every other year and did so in 2010, but he will at least make the semis.
Owen took down Dane Reynolds and Slater in consecutive rounds as a wildcard in 2009 before coming damn close to taking out an on-point Jordy Smith too. Rip Curl has predicted greatness from him since a young age and he’s been down to Bells every year for as long as he can remember. His whole family will drive down in their gigantic van and no one will be more prepared than Owen. Strength in numbers! Family passion! Typically I would stray away from goofy footers on a mushy right like Bells, but this is one exception you can count on.
I initially had Fred Patacchia slated for this spot before I found out his knee injury is still too jacked. How could I not after last year’s heroics, when Freddy hit the post-heat interview after Round 1 and let loose on the mic with, “I think they got his testicles so far up their mouths that, this is bullshit you know,” referring to the ridiculously excessive hype surrounding Owen Wright? Freddy P is a legendary human being and that’s what Passion Picks is all about, so I can only replace him with someone equally legendary — like Brett. When I read Simpo’s interview in our June issue and he mentioned getting psyched by listening to Waka Flocka Flame, I nearly fell out of my chair with excitement. Waka Flocka Flame is one hood-ass n***a. You’ve probably heard that Brett’s father was an NFL safety for the LA Rams and Buffalo Bills. Well Brett inherited those freak athletic genes from his pops and put that shit on display down at the Quik Pro last month. He also did the move of the event last year at Bells with a full rotator alley-oop on a solid overhead wave. In the end, Brett is gonna come out on top because his competition now knows he listens to Waka. They will fold.
There is no way Mick Fanning starts his 2011 campaign with consecutive poor outings. He’s just way too good. Anyone who thinks he is a boring surfer should ponder their life existence.
Dusty has his shit together now and that is scary for a lot of people on tour expecting to challenge for a world title. He might not have the consistency to make a run at the title himself yet, but he will wreck some dreams. Last year we hung out in the beer garden leading up to his Winkipop showdown with Slater. No, he was not drinking, although having a single beer to calm the nerves was discussed. It wasn’t necessary, however. He had no nerves. I saw not one signal that Kelly intimidated him even 1%, which seems impossible. Dusty confirmed that thought when he caught his first wave and threw a massive 360 tail-blow as his opening maneuver. This is even after Kelly’s attempted mindfuck of whispering, “I’ll give you $5 for this wave” as Dusty stroked into it. Unfortunately for D. Payne it was a wave-starved heat and he was left looking for a mediocre backup that didn’t make itself available. Might karma come back to bite Kelly in a potential rematch? The hype would be supreme. Harness your inner Alberga for me, Dusty.
Pat wrote me an email talking about the Australia road trip he, his brothers, and Dylan Graves have been on for the past month. In it he penned, “Our motto has just been to get as classic as possible.” Now I’ve basically changed my life to adopt this motto and I feel great. I recommend everyone do the same. Pat is bringing the passion so much that I’m making him my Passion Picks mascot for Bells. This underdog is about to bite!
We just ran a spread of Gabe in our June issue doing one of the biggest hacks anyone’s done in recent memory. He’s been on point. I’m feeling the vibes. Gabe’s gonna kill this contest. Bells is not suited for above-the-lip or fins-free surfing. It’s suited for power turns and drawing lines. That’s what Gabe does best. Go Gabe!
Wildcard worth running with: Adam Robertson
A pure legend who lives there in Jan Juc and made the final against Parko two years ago. If you need a cheap option to fill out your roster who can really smoke fools, this is your man.
Dude I’m scared I don’t have on my team: Taj Burrow
If these weren’t based on passion, I’d have him on. My honest advice would be to pick Taj if you’re serious about having a winning fantasy team. His heat at Winkipop against Andy Irons last year was hard to watch for A.I. fans like myself. The word domination has never been so relevant.
The 50th Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach runs April 19-30 in Torquay, in the southern state of Victoria, Australia. SURFING’s Editor in Chief, Travis Ferré, will be there. Dane Reynolds and Freddy P won’t be. You can watch the event live here.