'Bells really is the cathedral of pro surfing'
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 April, 2011 : - - It's awesome that we will be celebrating the 50th year of the Bells event this Easter. OK, so that means well be hearing lots of nice things said about the place, the contest and the epic feats that have gone on down there since 1961. But you know what? None of its over-the-top, none of its embellished.
Bells really is the cathedral of pro surfing. Other events and their often five-star rating venues come and go. But Bells is a constant in pro surfing, and surfing folklore. Its always been there and it seems like it always will be. Right from the moment I became interested in contest surfing, Bells and Easter were there. I guess its a bit like Wimbledon and tennis, the IndyCars and the Indianapolis 500, the golf and the US Masters. It also helps when youve got the coolest trophy in surfing!
And just as there are milestones in life, so there is at Bells. Fifty years. Thats pretty amazing when you think about it. Whoever gets to ring that bell this year will have carved out a special place in history. The closest Ive got to getting my hands on that iconic bell was a few years ago when I made the final against Kelly. To go one better in the year of the 50th event? Nice dream, and Ill be going hell for leather to make it happen.
They're forecasting really good swell for the event window, so it should be a great contest. There's nothing better than surfing Bells at six foot with a groomed offshore. Im frothing just thinking about it. Snapper was obviously not the greatest of contests for me. To say I didnt get the result I wanted is an understatement. Nobody wants a throwaway in their first contest of the year.
I dont know if a black cat crossed my path on the way down to Snapper when I did finally get to surf my second round heat but pretty much everything that could go wrong did. My knee decided to blow up on the morning of the heat and I just didn't have any idea what was going on.
It felt alright in my first heat and even though I rested it and didn't surf again until round 2, things just didnt work out for me. The conditions were super tough and I was waiting for waves that weren't out there. Sometimes local knowledge can actually be a disadvantage (I think Mick thought similarly after he was knocked out in the following round after spending too long waiting outside for waves he thought were coming).
While I was sitting in what I thought was the right place, Matt Banting found a wave that won him the heat. He is such a talented young surfer, and he has such a big future. I just wish I could have made him work harder for the win. I got my knee checked out and I have a small tear in my lateral meniscus. But since Snapper Ive been doing a lot of strength work on it and it's coming good. I'm feeling 100% now.
Thats allowed me to put the Gold Coast contest behind me now. Since then Ive been busy doing a couple of the other Aussie leg events, training and getting my body and boards ready for Bells.
Newcastle was a really fun event. I havent been down to Steel City for a few years now and I've got some really good friends there. So for that reason, I headed down there. Getting to the semis and securing a third was a helpful way of getting back into a contest rhythm after my early exit at Snapper.
I also ended up getting involved in one of the more interesting challenges of my life when I took part in the shaving of the head of Miss Surfest Runner-Up Paige Haggerston as part of the World's Greatest Shave promotion. It was pretty intimidating shaving a girls head, I can tell you. At one stage I was thinking of leaving it as a mullet halfway through, but I ended up shaving the lot off and bizarrely Paige actually suited it. Good on her for being part of it all too.
I also went to West Oz for the annual Margaret River event again this year. I didn't get the result I wanted there but had a great trip with the family. I got a couple of fun waves in free surfing and checked out the wineries. It was also good to see Damo Hobgood get a win.
It's been a while for him and you could really tell he was over the moon. The boys had to surf all types of conditions, so Damo earned his kudos. One particular day it was a good 10 foot and pretty wild out there, but the boys charged hard.
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