Before the act of guessing event winners became a spin of the roulette wheel, picking a Fantasy Surfer team for Bells was (semi) predictable. Those with a natural bent for slopey, righthanded points tended to be safe bets–Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, Adriano de Souza and any regular foot with a technical forehand wrap that could land them on the podium. But today, those prophetic guesses are almost irrelevant. Last year at the Rip Curl Pro, a certain high-flying goofyfooted Brazilian–who wasn’t on anyone’s Fantasy Surfer team–outsmarted and out-surfed one of the best Bells surfers of all time. This season, each event is anyone’s game, making all bets seemingly haphazard. That being said, our staff went ahead and chose who we think will win the Rip Curl Pro, with 100 percent certainty.
STAFF PICKS FOR THE RIP CURL PRO MEN’S EVENT:
As strange as it sounds, my money has got to be on the best beard in surfing…and its owner Wade Carmichael. Why, you ask? A few reasons. First, the lead-footed Wade shouldn’t have stood a chance in the peaky ramps at D-Bah, and yet he put himself on the right waves and carved himself a place in the quarterfinals. On a more facey wave like Bells, which plays directly to Wade’s strengths, I think he’s going to be an absolute weapon. The second reason I’m backing Wade is that there’s only so much the judges can give Italo before the people revolt and start burning $90 WSL jerseys in the streets.–Todd Prodanovich, Editor-in-Chief
His ability at long, righthand points is at the top of the list. Did he get edged out a little bit on a maybe-too-questionable call at Duranbah? Possibly. But Jordy knows the Bells walls like an old friend and surfs there like a bar of soap in a bathtub. If this is the year of the goofyfoot, then it would be a huge surprise to see that trend continue at Bells. This is Jordy’s time to stay in the championship race.–Ray Bergman, Fantasy Surfer Manager
I'm sure Italo is riding high after his win on the Gold Coast, and he'll likely ride that winning feeling all the way to the Bells podium. Regardless of whether or not you think he deserved the score for his buzzer-beater air during the final against Kolohe last week, you've gotta admit the Quik Pro was his to claim since Round 1. Italo has been on fire over the past few months and I don't see him cooling down anytime soon. Plus, he rang the bell last year after winning the final against Mick Fanning—the king of the Bells Bowl—so he knows exactly what it takes to defeat the regular-footed event favorites.–Ashtyn Douglas, Managing Editor
Griffin Colapinto is able to make something out of nothing. Remember his performance during Hawaiian Pro at during his qualifying year? It was the perfect mix of style, power and explosion. Bells probably plays to Griffin's strengths more than any other surfer on tour. Then again, there are years when backside surfing seems to tickle the judges more than forehand surfing, so who knows? But I have a feeling it’s the regular foot’s year this year.–Pete Taras, Digital Director
John John Florence
John's rail game was looking very polished at Dbah. I feel like if he has more room to work with, we'll see that iconic rail gouge that we've come to know and love. If we've learned anything from John (and Italo too for that matter), it's that the end section at Bells can morph into a liquid ramp that he can (and likely will) use to his advantage. I predict a lot of high-scoring combos from John John.–Adam Jara, Social Media Manager
STAFF PICKS FOR THE RIP CURL PRO WOMEN’S EVENT:
What Caroline lacks in years, she makes up for in pure, unadulterated Occ-ness on her backhand. Her backside bottom turn gives her so much more projection than her peers, it’s actually hard to imagine her not being at least in the final of every right-breaking Tour stop. Not to mention this is Bells we’re talking about, the location that probably suits her surfing best. She made semis here as a rookie, now she’s returning a year wiser and with a fresh victory under her belt. Yeah, she’s ringing that bell for sure.–Todd Prodanovich, Editor-in-Chief
Lakey now has a home-field advantage at Bells. How so, you ask? The newlywed’s husband is from the Bells area, which means she’s been splitting her time between both Rincons (Santa Barbara and Bells). It’s a unique advantage, akin to when Jordy Smith and Filipe Toledo moved to San Clemente part-time and started reaping the rewards of living next to one of the world’s most consistent A-frames. Peterson is as athletic as they come and her conditioning year-around at Bells and Santa Barbara will pay off nicely.–Ray Bergman, Fantasy Surfer Manager
I know, I know—I just blatantly selected the Gold Coast event winners for both my picks. But don't change winning horses midstream, amirite? Caroline Marks has arguably the best backhand attack on the women's side of the draw, which she'll most certainly put to good use on the long, open-walled faces of Bells Beach. Plus, the 17-year-old wunderkind (and Occy surf-a-like) took home a semifinal finish last year during the 2018 event in a performance that had people calling her "Baby Occ". So yeah, it's safe to say Caroline is in her element down in Torquay and will pocket another first-place finish.–Ashtyn Douglas, Managing Editor
Way too powerful to root against in a competitive arena made up of big, open-faced walls. But she’s also adept at going for strong finishing maneuvers, which will come in handy at the Bells end-section. That said, I do fear Caroline Marks will be a tough one to beat. Her backside whip is solid.–Pete Taras, Digital Director
My undying loyalty to see Steph Gilmore win another title continues through to Bells. That 5th-place finish at Dbah? Psssh, just a fluke (kidding, Caroline Marks was on fire). If she refocuses, she’ll be wearing that yellow jersey in no time. Is there an acronym or play on words like Kelly's "Sl8er" that we can make for Steph's inevitable 8th title? #GoSteph –Adam Jara, Social Media Manager
Let us know your picks to win at the second event of the season in the comment section below, and click here to build your Fantasy Surfer team.