With less than a week remaining until the commencement of the waiting period for the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by SNICKERS, the greatest assemblage of surfing talent in history has congregated amidst Victoria’s iconic righthanders for the second stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour.
Running from March 30 through April 10, 2010, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach culminates the Australian leg of the 2010 ASP Dream Tour, and the best surfers on the planet are primed for battle.
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, 2009 ASP World Runner-Up, was one of the form surfers at the opening event of the season, before going down to a rampaging Dane Reynolds (USA), 24, in the Quarterfinals. However, Parkinson’s Equal 5th place finish to open up 2010 puts the talented natural-footer in an excellent position to make a run at an inaugural ASP World Title.
“I was actually really happy with the way I surfed at Snapper,” Parkinson said. “I just had the misfortune of walking into Dane (Reynolds) in that heat. The one thing I really worked on last year was consistency and not having bad heats. I lost at Snapper, but I didn’t have a bad heat. That averages out in your favour over the course of a whole season, you’ll win more of those heats than you’ll lose.”
Defending Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach winner, Parkinson’s rapport with the roping righthanders is near unrivaled amongst his peers and over a decade of experience at the break will serve him well against the ASP Top 45.
“Having a good run here last year doesn’t count for much this year.” Parkinson said. “That said, I never really feel too much pressure paddling out at Bells, it’s one of those places that’s always felt like a home away from home. It’s the kind of wave that takes you a few years to get your head around. It’s a wave I’ve surfed since I was 14 and a wave I love to surf it. I haven’t been near a wetsuit in months, and I actually enjoy getting down there and paddling out in a steamer. It’s such a contrasting surfing experience to being at home, and that’s what I love about it.”
Despite Parkinson’s comfort level at the venue, the Australian powerhouse is quick to recognize Bells’ ability to shake things up amongst the world’s best surfers.
“I think anyone who’s won before out there will be the favourites for sure,” Parkinson said. “There are a lot of multiple winners when you look at that trophy. But in saying that, the event always throws up a surprise contender, and at Bells, it’s often the guy you least expect – look at Robbo (Adam Robertson) last year. He was a wildcard, but he was a guy who knew that wave intimately and he made the Final as a result.”
Parkinson will face compatriot Chris Davidson (AUS), 33, and one of the wildcards in Round 1 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
Kelly Slater (USA), 38, former nine-time ASP World Champion, posted some of the highest-scoring waves in the opening event of the year, but was halted in the Quarterfinals, finishing Equal 9th.
“It wasn’t the result I’d love to start with based on how I started the event,” Slater said. “I was tentative on my buckled board against Jordy (Smith) and you just can’t make those choices in those situations. I’m feeling pretty good overall with my surfing, though I struggle with focus sometimes when I see friends off tour getting such good waves!”
With nearly twenty years of experience at the region’s historic waves, the iconic Floridian knows the venue inside and out.
“I feel best when there are good low tide bowl waves,” Slater said. “The wave is generally flat and you have to pick the right ones. You have to be patient on it as well and not try to over-surf and save your legs for the end section.”
Slater will take on Mick Campbell (AUS), 35, and Marco Polo (BRA), 28, in the opening round of competition.
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, current ASP World No. 2, has long been heralded as the future of the sport. Although results haven’t necessarily correlated with potential thus far, Smith’s Runner-Up finish at the opening event of the year put the remainder of the ASP Top 45 on notice.
“My biggest change this season is me just being me,” Smith said. “In years previous, I was too concerned about what other people were thinking and not how I felt. My surfing hasn’t changed much; I’m just more comfortable with all aspects of my surfing now. I’m very comfortable at this level but it’s all about timing. It would be good to have Top 5 finish at the end of the year. I’m not trying to get ahead of myself though.”
Finishing Equal 3rd at last season’s event, the well-built South African is comfortable with Bells’ ample canvases and looks forward to slicing up some massive maneuvers.
“Bells is a wave that suits bigger guys because we can draw out our turns a bit better,” Smith said. “It gives you the opportunity to think more about your turns and offers a bigger range of variety.”
Smith will battle Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 24, and Jay Thompson (AUS), 27, when the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach commences.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach pres. by SNICKERS will be webcast LIVE via www.live.ripcurl.com
The Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford Fiesta, featuring the ASP Top 17, will run in conjunction with the Rip Curl Pro from March 30 through April 5, 2010.
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Dane Reynolds (USA), Andy Irons (HAW), Nate Yeomans (USA)
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA), Luke Stedman (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Tanner Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 4: C.J. Hobgood (USA), Tiago Pires (PRT), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA), Mick Campbell (AUS), Marco Polo (BRA)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), Blake Thornton (AUS)
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS), Neco Padaratz (BRA)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), TBA
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Chris Davidson (AUS), TBA
Heat 10: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), TBA
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Jay Thompson (AUS)
Heat 12: Taylor Knox (USA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 13: Tom Whitaker (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Brett Simpson (AUS)
Heat 14: Kieren Perrow (AUS), Ben Dunn (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 15: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Owen Wright (AUS), Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 16: Dean Morrison (AUS), Luke Munro (AUS), Roy Powers (HAW)