Bells Beach is a fickle beast. Sometimes she pummels everything in her path with massive running righthanders, other times she forces Rip Curl to move things to Winkipop or Johanna. From the very first man to ring the bell (Glen Ritchie) to the man whose rung it the most in the modern era (Kelly Slater), the Bells event has been around for 50 years (the longest running surf contest, ever). A rich history surrounds the Bells event, and heading into this year that top seed is a familiar face.
The rest of the tour has got to be thinking to themselves, "Won't Kelly just f--king retire already." Yes, they undoubtedly love the challenge from him, but come on, he's already nailed number 10 and now number 11 is looking like somehow plausible. Any contest he's in he's the odds on favorite to win (check out the Sportsbet Australia odds below). Though Kelly has been successful in recent years at Bells, it's a different story throughout the span of his career. "In the past 19 years of going there," Kelly says, "sometimes it's treated me well and sometimes it's been the most frustrating stop on tour for me. I think it's about going there with the right mental approach."
If Slates has that mental approach, which it most certainly looks like he does, everyone else watch out--and even with a bum foot last year the Champ still dominated and took the Bell. But that doesn't mean you can forget about the likes of Jordy Smith, Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning, and Parko either. Mick and Parko are pretty sour about exiting early at their home event of Snapper and both have a Bell to their names, so they could be sleeping dragons at Bells awaiting for the first heat to decimate everything in their paths. And you can count out Dane Reynolds for this one too, as he withdrew from competition yesterday.
50 years is a pretty big feat for Rip Curl and their Bells event. The last few years though have seen lackluster surf for the contest, so hopefully this year a 50 year swell will grace the fabled break--because if not it'll be more of the same mushburgers this year.--Ryan Brower
Kelly Slater 6.5-1
Mick Fanning 7-1
Joel Parkinson 7-1
Jordy Smith 7-1
Taj Burrow 8-1
Adrian Buchan 16-1
The 2011 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach runs April 19-30 and can be seen live at live.ripcurl.com.
Chris Cote, Editor In Chief
Winner: The best surfer in the water is the one who's having the most fun; therefore the best surfer at Bells will be Matty Wilkinson. He's gonna slash the backside schraplers all the way to beach on every wave. He'll rollerblade to and from the contest and he will do more damage to the female population of Victoria than any other pro surfer, ever.
Rookie/wildcard: Julian loves Bells, he will do very well there. I would venture to say that he will make at least the semis, if not win the whole damn thing.
Who will rip: Julian Wilson is going to Bells on a mission--he's like a terminator going to earth to destroy every wave, every heat, and every opponent. Other humans to watch: Kerr, Wilko, and Carissa Moore.
Who will slip: I'm all for the "legacy" and "historic" element of the Bell's comp, but Rip Curl needs to settle down on the hype, hopefully the waves will be good, if not, there's going to be a lot of polish on a big turd.
Conditions: Hopefully, the 20-year swell will hit and Bodhi will be unleashed from his handcuffs and charge out in 50-foot sets!
Casey Koteen, Managing Editor
Winner: Jordy Smith, he seems to love lumpy bumpy surf, and doesn't mind cold water.
Rookie/wildcard: Both rookies will probably do well, no big surprise, but I bet wildcard Gabe Medina will throw down a few upsets.
Who will rip: Adam Melling and Taylor Knox will rip.
Who will slip: I'd be surprised to see Dane go to Bells, therefore he will not be ripping… there at least.
Conditions: The Southern Ocean seems pretty active, I think we'll see some thumpers, hopefully the wind cooperates.
Aaron Checkwood, Photo Editor
Winner: Mick Fanning. Losing early in the event before always inspires dudes like him for the next one.
Rookie/wildcard: I'm not sure if he's in, but Adam Robertson is the Victorian Sean Holmes.
Who will rip: Guys who can rip through flat sections.
Who will slip: Goofyfoots who rely on frontside airs for big scores.
Conditions: Sick. Not in the good way.
Justin Cote, Online Editor
Winner: Taj Burrow should have won at Snapper, if he can find that form again he’ll be sipping champagne and ringing the famed Bells trophy.
Rookie/wildcard: With only two rookies it’s a 50/50 bet but I think Julian Wilson will do better than Alejo Muniz despite the Brazilians stellar performance at Snapper.
Who will rip: Julian Wilson is gonna be coming in hot and his recent sessions at Swamis in SoCal are going to pay off big time.
Who will slip: Unless Occy gets a wildcard I don’t see too many goofyfooters lighting up Bells.
Conditions: Hopefully big and bad ass so the men get separated from the boys…
Ryan Brower, Edit Assistant
Winner: Jordy was damn close at Snapper and he's not going to be letting up on the Bald Man this year. Watch out for Taj, too.
Rookie/wildcard: Pretty much a toss-up for which rookie will do better. Both Julian and Alejo will break some veteran's hearts...
Who will rip: Adam Melling. He's coming off a big win in New Zealand and his surfing suits carvable rights.
Who will slip: As much as I like perennial wildcard Adam Robertson on his home turf, he's lost a bit of that luster the last few years and he's going to go down early again this year.
Conditions: It's been a few years since proper Bells put out some Easter goodies for the Rip Curl Pro, and this year it's going to be good proper Bells for the 50th Rip Curl Pro.
Jeffrey Baldwin, TW Sales Turkey
Winner: Kelly Slater can’t be stopped! Boring but true, he sets the bar they all shoot for.
Rookie/wildcard: Julian will make the final. Looking for cracks in Kelly’s armor, but he won’t slay the dragon YET. He’ll be in the top 5 by years end.
Who will rip: Damien, Ace, Kai and Bobby all will rip. The goofys will make a hard run for the Bell this year.
Who will slip: The back 20 might be shredding. But no body cares, so in that sense none of them will be ripping. Sad truth isn’t it?
Conditions: I hope they score massive perfect Bells and Winki pop for the event, but history seems to favor moves down the coast to Johanna.