Surf: Head-high and chunky rights
Events held: Men’s round one
Nature’s call: Hit me with your best shot
Predicted: Same size and cleaner “I’ve 5-1 odds Kelly Slater will NOT win this event,” says an undisclosed and inebriated surf industry insider. “He’s more concerned with his tee-time tomorrow. No, wait…” He carefully considers his claim, “No actually,” he continues, “Kelly will win this contest without thinking of surfing at all.” This, of course, happened last night amidst a blurring, bouncing sprawl at some place called the Melbourne Crown Casino; at something called the ASL Surf Industry Ball. Somewhere amongst the “I like big butts” chaos, Kelly Slater was fitting in quite well with an oversized glass of red dangling close to some young gal’s dainty wristwatch. The watch read: “far past his bedtime.” But he probably didn’t even care about the time, or that the jet-lagged American surf journalist watching him would be wide awake at 5 am trying to chicken scratch out these very details to his notes. Bells, Bells: The contest that still holds them all at attention; the old and noble event; the trophy that still holds the best spot on any pro surfers family mantle. The winner’s names are too brute and poetic: MP and MR, TC and Occy, KS6, Fanning and Raw Irons. The wave is temperamental and broad; it moves at its own pace, fast then slow then speeding up again, so anyone riding it has to stay in line. You have to be really good to read it properly and when a wave goes alone, you can still see the famous tracks left of times gone by. Blast! With one last smash on the inside, it’s a quick flick-out in the shore break and then, yes — nude, shivering young men with your name painted on their chest come rushing at you in the deep, high-tide washed sand (No, it’s not a fantasy; it really happened to Occy in 98). To win a Bell is grand. It’s trophy’s still by far the heaviest of the world. When defending Bells and world champ Andy Irons went out today, to undoubtedly try and further his increasingly dramatic and dominant WCT campaign, there’s no question such glories were in his mind. Matched against a confident Victor Ribas and an eighteen- year old wildcard and current world junior champion, Ben Dunn, Andy’s approach was nothing short of amazing. The way Bells bowl offers two large opportunities out back and then a finishing touch on the sand suits Irons’ showman range wildly. Watching him smash the lip only where it looks best, then to wait for some kind of trickery on the last blast is just too much; it looks too easy for him, and it’s no wonder he’s now won this event two seasons in a row. Not to mention, it also seems to showcase the fact that unlike some of his peers, he’s slowly perfecting a bottom turn similar to Kelly or Taylor; one that more than just a controlled whip into the lip, it’s a score-able move of its own. It’s no wonder that Mr. Ribas and Dunn were so ruthlessly done up by the raw one, this is the event that’s started his title steals the past two years running. It’s no wonder he came in with a strut and said, “Everyone wants a Bell, I want my third.”Sure he does. And Kelly Slater wants his seventh world title. In heat number nine Kelly Slater did not surf like he had golf on his mind at all; but gold. He rode the only tube today (In sloppy high tide stuff), and he smoked a very serious carving {{{CJ}}} Hobgood with ballistic ease, throwing more spray than maybe thirty of his fellow top- notch carvers combined; on one wave! By Kelly’s heat the high tide had forced the lineup from the ” bowl” to the upper part of the point affectionately called ” Rincon” for its faster wedge and down the line projection. Something that Kelly used to a degree I’m neither comfortable nor qualified to explain, as even the attempt will surely send me into the depths of favoritism — something Andy clearly isn’t fond of these days.Not he or Joel Parkinson. To his credit Joel surfed overall the most brilliant, point-scoring heat of the day, one worth 17.67 and double that on the hoot meter. One layback-under-the-lip-hook-adjustment was enough to have your style wig flaming for days. So for that I’ll have to give him my unofficial “darkness third man sneaker” award as the one who should most likely spoil Andy and Kelly’s little daytime drama this event. But, then again, it could also be Sunny (Lumbering grunt hacks) or Taylor (Vert wind smashers) or Mick Fanning (Lightning sky hooks) or Taj Burrow (Lunatic flare-ups) or, or…tune in same station, same time tomorrow surf fans, it’s going to be a fine line.— Hagan KelleyPS: Not to make light of this: The biggest losses of today were Mick Lowe (wave starved) and Bruce Irons (multiple costly rail digs) to veteran and overall cool player, Luke Egan. Rip Curl Pro Round One Heats (1st>Rnd3; 2nd, 3rd>Rnd2)
{{{H1}}}: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 15.0; Pat O’Connell (USA) 12.7; Dean Morrison (AUS) 10.23
{{{H2}}}: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 16.74; Kalani Robb (HAW) 15.97; Cory Lopez (USA) 12.17
{{{H3}}}: Luke Egan (AUS) 12.03; Bruce Irons (HAW) 11.67; Mick Lowe (AUS) 8.33
H4: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.27; Eric Rebiere (FRA) 10.1; Richie Lovett (AUS) 9.5
H5: Neco Padaratz (BRA) 13.1; Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.87; Greg Emslie (ZAF) 11.73
H6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.67; Troy Brooks (AUS) 15.77; Paulo Moura (BRA) 8.43
H7: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.0; Luke Hitchings (AUS) 9.27; Peterson Rosa (BRA) 8.94
H8: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.67; Victor Ribas (BRA) 11.67; Ben Dunn (AUS) 9.07
H9: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.5; CJ Hobgood (USA) 14.37; Adam Robertson (AUS) 13.53
H10: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.73; Zane Harrison (AUS) 11.83; Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 9.6
H11: Jake Paterson (AUS) 15.76; Tim Curran (USA) 13.93; Steve Hughes (AUS) 9.3
H12: Lee Winkler (AUS) 15.{{{57}}}; Toby Martin (AUS) 11.74; Phil MacDonald (AUS) 11.53
H13: Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 14.33; Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.5; Armando Daltro (BRA) 10.33
H14: Danny Wills (AUS) 13.4; Trent Munro (AUS) 11.0; Nathan Webster (AUS) 9.1
H15: Beau Emerton (AUS) 15.5; Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 14.73; Mick Campbell (AUS) 13.93
H16: Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 15.0; Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.5; Tom Whitaker (AUS) 8.84