Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: Day 1

Surf: Six foot plus Bells, messy and difficult
Events Held: Rip Curl Pro men's round one, plus four heats of round two
Nature’s Call: And there's more where that came from, you can bet on it
Predicted: More hard work till the wind turns

Remember what Kelly said about Bells yesterday afternoon? "It always looks better than it is"?

Not today. Today looked exactly as hard, rugged, uneven, and just plain tortuous as Bells Beach gets, as the top 45 and wildcards workhorsed their way through six to seven feet – that is, double overhead – of bumpy long flat wall, shredded by a direct hit of 25 knot onshore wind. Nonetheless, the Rip Curl Pro marched through 20 heats like it was cardboard. All this plus a bitchen sweep down the reef! Just as well they're all so doggone fit.

Here's the real giveaway: after six heats there hadn't been a wave scored over eight points. Six heats, eighteen surfers, and no ride considered "excellent".

That all changed with Parko's arrival – Mr Smooth, whose gliding swooping style seems to connect with Bells no matter what the wind happens to be doing. Joel clicked with a 9-plus to make himself one of three surfers who immediately strikes a casual viewer as a chance here.

One of the other two is Bede Durbidge. Surfing has been calling Bede out as an event winner long before his Triple Crown in 2007. Ill fortune this morning dumped him into a round two heat late this afternoon, in which he brutally and summarily dispensed with wildcard ex-45 member Nathan Hedge, in the second highest scoring win of the day.

Do we need to tell you who scored highest? Yep, that's right, the quotee from this report's first sentence.

Slater cruised and played with his round one heat before putting it out of its mercy with a typically composed yet dazzling nine-plus in the closing stages. He now sits in prime position to repeat his Snapper Rocks win … yet to Surfing, he still looks like a guy who doesn't mind either way. How long can he keep winning heats like this before something clicks? Before he can't avoid stepping up to yet another title shot?

Guess we'll just have to keep watching.

Meanwhile, other people did some interesting stuff. Ace Buchan aced Mick Fanning the same way he aced Taj at Snapper, by refusing to flip out. Jeremy Flores continued his extraordinary run of round one wins; since starting out last year he's averaging over {{{80}}}%, and it can't be too much longer before the bulk of his opposition stop seeing him as a semi-innocent grom and start seeing the killer underneath. And AI's free-surf the day before paid off with his judgement of the conditions today. Andy is beginning to surf heats the way his guru Occy used to, with a very clear calculated plan that belies his rep as an unpredictable dynamo.

Occ's ghost lives in Andy. But there's always ghosts around Bells. Hell, the contest's older than any of the competitors. Sitting next to Surfing at dinner this evening were two mature women, one older than the other, eyes receding into a deeply lined face. The waitress brought them martinis. The older woman rejected hers: "That's the worst martini I've ever tasted!"

Surfing suggested she stick to wine. "Normally I do," she confided, "but every now and then…"

The older woman was Joan Peterson – mother of Michael.

Couldn't happen anywhere else.

Kelly Slater

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Bobby Martinez 12.67, Luke Munro 7.07, Royden Bryson 5.67
Heat 2: Dayyan Neve 10.00, Dean Morrison 8.27, Travis Logie 6.00
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores 12.83, Bruce Irons 10.83, Tiago Pires 9.00
Heat 4: Pancho Sullivan 13.77, Neco Padaratz 10.67, Jihad Khodr 10.14
Heat 5: Andy Irons 12.84, Jordy Smith 10.17, Chris Ward 7.87
Heat 6: Daniel Ross 17.33, Bede Durbidge 12.33, Tim Reyes 3.47
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson 16.26, Nic Muscroft 14.84, Ben Dunn 9.{{{57}}}
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan 10.33, Stuart Kennedy 9.76, Mick Fanning 7.24
Heat 9: Taj Burrow 13.67, Leonardo Neves 12.00, Nathan Hedge 7.53
Heat 10: Kelly Slater 17.50, Adriano de Souza 14.67, Troy Brooks 5.34
Heat 11: {{{CJ}}} Hobgood 11.83, Dane Reynolds 8.{{{90}}}, Daniel Wills 4.43
Heat 12: Jay Thompson 12.80, Kai Otton 11.83, Ricky Basnett 10.83
Heat 13: Tom Whitaker 15.67, Ben Bourgeois 14.83, Fred Patacchia 9.34
Heat 14: Taylor Knox 12.26, Michael Campbell 11.60, Mikael Picon 11.40
Heat 15: Damien Hobgood 14.33, Kieren Perrow 13.83, Heitor Alves 7.83
Heat 16: Rodrigo Dornelles 13.83, Roy Powers 13.23, Luke Stedman 11.50

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Completed Round 2 Heats:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning 14.17 def. Stuart Kennedy 5.50
Heat 2: Bede Durbidge 17.33 def. Nathan Hedge 6.63
Heat 3: Troy Brooks 16.10 def. Dean Morrison 12.50
Heat 4: Kai Otton 14.50 def. Nic Muscroft 8.23

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Remaining Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 5: Luke Stedman vs. Chris Ward
Heat 6: Leonardo Neves vs. Jihad Khodr
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza vs. Tiago Pires
Heat 8: Ben Dunn vs. Travis Logie
Heat 9: Tim Reyes vs. Royden Bryson
Heat 10: Jordy Smith vs. Daniel Wills
Heat 11: Neco Padaratz vs. Ricky Basnett
Heat 12: Bruce Irons vs. Fred Patacchia
Heat 13: Luke Munro vs. Mikael Picon
Heat 14: Dane Reynolds vs. Heitor Alves
Heat 15: Ben Bourgeois vs. Roy Powers
Heat 16: Michael Campbell vs. Kieren Perrow

View the photos from today’s action HERE