Womens Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: Day 1

Surf: Four foot Bells bowl, clean (until the wind changed)
Events Held: Rip Curl Pro women's rounds one and two
Nature’s Call: Who knows what I'll try next?
Predicted: Calmer weather, dropping swell, chaotic weekend crowds

Around 12:30 pm Thurday afternoon Bells Beach time, just as Surfing magazine drove over the hill above Winkipop, it hit. A massive onshore southwest gale: black cloud line, rain, 40-knot winds, the lot.

People were running out of the dustblown Rip Curl Pro viewing area like victims fleeing a bombsite. Matty Griggs, supercoach, wandered resignedly up through the parking lot, fit-ball under arm, not quite shaking his head. "Just when the blokes were about to go," Matty half-grunted.

At any other event on earth, the contest director woulda been hanging his head. But this is Bells Beach, and Damien Hardman was grinning. "You've got to have a bit of the mongrel dog down here or it's not Bells," said Dooma.

Hardman has a point. It's a Bells quirk that bad weather and good surf almost always go hand-in-hand. And seeing as how everyone's been yelping about the good surf forecasts for nearly a week, some sort of crazy storm was practically inevitable.

Today it arrived after a morning of clean building four-foot surf, during which half the top 45 – including surf-forecast-suckered Kelly Slater, who'd shown up despite almost promising he wouldn't – laid waste to Winkipop, and the first women's rounds got off to a high-performance start.

Blowing up with the heat of the day was defending champ Steph Gilmore, who easily top-scored with 17.4/20. Steph is fresh from a week of playing race-cars in the celebrity section of the Australian Formula One {{{Grand Prix}}}, and it seems to have cleared her head of the nervous early loss at the Roxy Pro two weeks back.

No surprises occurred in the predictable conditions, with Layne Beachley, Sofia Mulanovich, Sam Cornish and Amee Donohoe all making round three.

Then the gale stopped the contest. But they say if you don't like the weather down here, wait 10 minutes, and sure enough, by later this afternoon, the wind had quieted and the swell had pushed, and Bells hosted an all-star session: AI, Fanning, the Hobgoods, Bobby Martinez, Danny Wills, Kai Otton, Tom Whitaker, Jordy Smith. All seemed relaxed and stoked, hooting each other into waves and making heaps of clownish errors.

Above 'em on the cliff, Slater watched. "It always looks better than it is," he mused. What the hell is this freak really thinking? Guess we'll find out tomorrow.

For more information, log onto www.ASPWorldTour.com

Rip Curl Women's Pro pres. by {{{Ford}}} Fiesta Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Layne Beachley 11.34, Nicola Atherton 7.50, Julia De La Rosa 4.37
Heat 2: Megan Abubo 15.50, Claire Bevilacqua 11.83, Samantha Cornish 4.83
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore 17.40, Jacqueline Silva 14.33, Alana Blanchard 6.86
Heat 4: Sofia Mulanovich 11.00, Jessi Miley-Dyer 10.50, Karina Petroni 8.40
Heat 5: Silvana Lima 13.00, Melanie Redman-Carr 9.66, Rosanne Hodge 7.04
Heat 6: Amee Donohoe 14.07, Serena Brooke 13.27, Rebecca Woods 12.64

Rip Curl Women's Pro pres. by Ford Fiesta Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Samantha Cornish 11.40, Rosanne Hodge 9.60, Alana Blanchard 9.00
Heat 2: Karina Petroni 12.50, Rebecca Woods 11.60, Julia De La Rosa 9.87

Rip Curl Pro pres. by Snickers Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Bobby Martinez, Luke Munro, Royden Bryson
Heat 2: Dean Morrison, Dayyan Neve, Travis Logie
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores, Bruce Irons, Tiago Pires
Heat 4: Pancho Sullivan, Neco Padaratz, Jihad Khodr
Heat 5: Andy Irons, Jordy Smith, Chris Ward
Heat 6: Bede Durbidge, Tim Reyes, Daniel Ross
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson, Ben Dunn, Nic Muscroft
Heat 8: Mick Fanning, Adrian Buchan, Stuart Kennedy
Heat 9: Taj Burrow, Leonardo Neves, Nathan Hedge
Heat 10: Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza, Troy Brooks
Heat 11: {{{CJ}}} Hobgood, Dane Reynolds, Daniel Wills
Heat 12: Kai Otton, Jay Thompson, Ricky Basnett
Heat 13: Tom Whitaker, Ben Bourgeois, Fred Patacchia
Heat 14: Taylor Knox, Michael Campbell, Mikael Picon
Heat 15: Damien Hobgood, Kieren Perrow, Heitor Alves
Heat 16: Luke Stedman, Roy Powers, Rodrigo Dornelles

View the photos from today’s action HERE