Competitive surfing is a fickle beast. John John Florence went into Snapper with all the momentum in the world, having not only won the last two world titles, but also shown up early on the Gold Coast to test out his contest quiver. And where did that get him? Onto the podium for a champagne shower? Not even close. John John lost in Round 2 and watched on while an injured, sleep-deprived new father—who almost no one put on their Fantasy Surfer team—won the whole thing. Is there a lesson in there somewhere about making predictions for surfing events? Hmmm…I’m not seeing it. Anyway, below are our staff picks for the second stop of the 2018 World Tour.


Jordy Smith
How can you not back Jordy for this event? Sure, it’s Mick’s last bash and he’s a perennial standout at the place, but if you could somehow capture and measure spray by the gallon from both surfers during past events, Jordy takes it by a swimming pool. At the end of the day, succeeding at Bells is all about powerful carves, and Jordy is undoubtedly the most heavy-footed surfer on Tour when he wants to be.—Todd Prodanovich, Editor

Adriano de Souza
A disappointing equal 9th might fuel Adriano’s fire a bit going into Bells, but really, his furnace burns pretty hot most of the time anyway. He’s never been the flashy pick, but he’s always been the smart pick. Lethal in open-walled righthanders where he can unleash his unrivaled bottom-turn-to-vertical-hack combo. Fitter than most on Tour. Brilliant competitive approach. Adriano’s game is tailor-made for Bells.—Justin Housman, Features Editor

Griffin Colapinto
I will admit, Griffin was completely outside my periphery going into Snapper (sorry Griff). I'm asking my fellow San Clemente native to forgive me, and with that, he's my pick to win Bells. He's become so explosive in such a short time. He pushes through flat sections and weird warble lip-lines better than anyone. Half the battle at Bells is finishing a wave solidly, and Griff-dawg has a repertoire of confident end moves that should make him stand out from the pack, like no handed 360s and rail-sinking drop-wallets.—Peter Taras, Digital Director

Caio Ibelli
Normally I expect a top seed to ring the bell. However, after watching Caio Ibelli in last year's Rip Curl Pro dismantle John Florence in the dying seconds of their semifinal, while suppressed by a 9.93, is causing me to go against my gut. Jordy Smith beat Ibelli in last year's final with a pair of 9s, it wasn't a slaughter though—Ibelli had a 9.63 in his score line and needed a back-up of lesser value. Ibelli meets Smith at Bells again in their Round 1 heat this year, and if Ibelli can maintain the same composure he held throughout that semifinal with Florence and exact revenge on Smith in that first heat, I think it could be a sign of things to come for the rest of the event.—Ben Waldron, Online Editor

Griffin Colapinto
I picked Griffin at Snapper, thinking if he could beat John Florence in Round 1 (which he did), he’d carry that confidence and momentum all the way to a win. While he came up one heat shy of making me look really smart, he also didn’t show a single weakness along the way. Like Snapper, Bells suits Griff’s surfing. Just check this clip for proof. I think Griffin carries his hot streak into the Bell’s Bowl, and one-ups his rookie debut.—Zander Morton, Field Editor

Mick Fanning
Maybe I'm just a sucker for a good story, but I'd love to see Mick have one final hurrah with a win at Bells. Fanning took his maiden 'CT event win here in 2001, and nothing could more perfectly complete the long, storied arc of his career than ringing that oversized bell one more time. I'll admit, he seemed a bit frazzled at Snapper during his Round 4 heat (which he lost), but I think he'll rise to the occasion at Bells. Whether the waves are maxing or mushy as marshmallows, Mick always looks completely comfortable at Bells. I’ll put my money on him one more time.—Ashtyn Douglas, Managing Editor

Filipe Toledo
Up until last year, I kind of dismissed Filipe as a small wave talent who would thrive in certain events and struggle in just as many due to bigger conditions. But he's very good at sniffing out his weak points and working hard on them. He’s had several years of various Bells conditions under his belt, and putting on a dominant performance there is the leap he’ll make next.—Ray Bergman, Fantasy Surfer Director

Julian Wilson
Julian, despite his injury and raising a new child, looks hungry for a title run. It's about darn time for Julian to really rise to the occasion and prove to the world that he isn't going to end up like Taj—an incredible raw talent that could never quite keep it together for an entire title run (sorry Taj). Julian’s performance at Snapper was pretty much flawless and I think Bells suits his approach to long point breaks. He's going to carry that momentum from Snapper and I think this will be another stepping stone for his first title win.—Adam Jara, Social Media Manager


Whether she wins or loses, Carissa Moore always puts on an electric performance. Photo by Ryan Miller


Carissa Moore
You know the gambling addict who doubles down after a losing bet because he feels the universe owes him one? Nice to meet you. After Carissa’s absolutely mind-numbing edit dropped in the lead up to Snapper, it was inconceivable to me that she wouldn’t decimate the field. So what have I learned after her quarterfinal loss at Snapper? That it was a total one-in-a-million fluke, and Carissa will absolutely decimate the field at Bells.—Todd Prodanovich, Editor

Tyler Wright
Wright’s superb power game is perfect for Bells. If it’s head-high and above, she can gouge it with the best of them. If it moves into racetrack-speed Rincon, she’s got the new-school flair to compete with anybody. Bells is a complicated, varied wave and a surfer needs Wright’s full toolbox to predicatably do well there.—Justin Housman, Features Editor

Sage Erickson
The recent Santa Barbara edition of “Amp Sessions” (shot at Rincon) tells me that Sage looks just a little sharper on open, facey waves than her competition. To me, her turns look just a tad more polished, a little more on rail and a little more solid.—Peter Taras, Digital Director

Carissa Moore
I'm going to stick with Carissa for Bells. She was my pick for Snapper because of all the training she did in the offseason and her desire for retribution after her lackluster 2017 finish. Those reasons, combined with Moore's successful history at Bells, are why she'll win this year. She's won the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells three times and there's no reason why she can't do it again this year.—Ben Waldron, Online Editor

Caroline Marks
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? I rode with Caroline at Snapper, and she ended up making the quarters. The talent level on the women’s ‘CT is without a doubt the highest it’s ever been, so Caroline — a 16-year-old rookie — has her work cut out for her. That said, Caroline’s backhand surfing is the best on Tour. To me, it’s not even an argument. Watch this clip, and then ask yourself: Have you ever seen a female surf this well backside? I challenge anyone to find a clip of Carissa, Steph, Sally, or Tyler throwing down a more impressive backside combo. Caroline for the win!—Zander Morton, Field Editor

Lakey Peterson
I can't tell you how excited I was when Lakey took home the win at Snapper. Over the past few years, Lakey's been periodically showing us moments of brilliance with her win at the U.S. Open in back in 2012 and a handful of 2nd place finishes since then. But after watching her breeze through the rounds of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, it feels like she's shifted into higher gear. If she keeps those spicey frontside hacks on point, she'll be in the running for the title this year. Plus, word around the campfire is she was putting in a lot of time at Bells before the start of the season, so I'm sure she's ready to rock. —Ashtyn Douglas, Managing Editor

Johanne Defay
Quiet and unassuming is how you want your dark horse picks to stay. Defay will work her way through the second third of the draw and be an underdog against many of the top seeds, but she’s got the chops to win here at Bells and set off a run for the top five from there.—Ray Bergman, Fantasy Surfer Director

Nikki Van Dijk
Nikki has long been one of my favorites on the women's Tour. She's got a mean frontside hack and can thread a barrel really well. I think she'll be a force to be reckoned with at Bells.—Adam Jara, Social Media Manager