Retroactive Blogging: The 51st Rip Curl Pro Bells Easter Comp

I wrote this post about Bells a few months back…

Day 2. The sun is piercing the super translucent remnants of the marine layer mixed with wildfire haze; a virginal veil over the pristine beauty that is Victoria’s rugged coastline. It hits the gold-grey sand and wheat-coloured cliffs, refracting off of the glass-smooth faces pounding Winkipop with a deceptive grace. Overhead sets wrap ‘round the point at Rincon. Thousands of millimetres of lens are trained on the Bowl. Jet skis rear and climb peaks, dive down their spines. Julian snaps, hacks, cuts.

Day 4. Gale-force winds ravage the contest site shortly after an emotional Mick Fanning is presented with his bell trophy. As he gives an interview to Channel 9, the gusts apparently level every section of fence bearing a past champion’s photograph. Except one: Michael Peterson. Talk about eerie. The late legend was the very first champion of the Bells Easter comp in 1973.

The weather had been warm and sunny all week–atypical for Easter in Victoria, and it actually began turning during the men’s final. The clouds rolled in as the crowd on the beach shared a moment commemorating MP. “Hells Bells” played on the loudspeakers and goose bumps rose on our arms. Someone said, “It would be fitting if a ‘Cooly kid’ won this year.” This 51st year. Kelly flew and spun and stuck, but Mick rode Bells as Bells likes to be ridden–with power, style, control. And win a Cooly kid did. 

Day 5. Sally Fitz rings her second consecutive Bells bell. Steph Gilmore pre-jacs the champagne and has to keep her hands over the mouth of the bottle until an appropriate champagne showering moment arises. Sal opened not her champagne, but her campaign, at Bells with a pair o’ nines and powered all the way through. Through Coco and Sage, Lakey and Courtney, Carissa, and, finally, Steph. The first half of the women’s final was straight-up spiritless. Or, the waves just weren’t cooperating. With fewer than ten minutes remaining, the scores were all beneath the ASP’s official numerical definition of “average.” Steph needed a low 4 to take the win and Sally gave her a wave–a move that could have (should have, would have) been lethal. But it wasn’t. The wave fell apart and Steph’s score wasn’t enough. She accepts second place with a smile. She’s still number one in the world.

After 12+ hour days, the comp has finished well within its waiting period limits. Everyone seems ready for some alcohol-induced recuperation. Or at least I am. The Surfing Life party is mental. It’s also a blur. It’s also off the record…

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One thought on “Retroactive Blogging: The 51st Rip Curl Pro Bells Easter Comp

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