Leading up to the final day, Mick Fanning was freesurfing Winkipop like it was his job…it kind of is.
All Photos: Jimmicane
Combat is never immortal, but it sure felt like it could be. The Australian leg of the WCT started 53 days ago — an eternity, pretty much. With an iffy swell forecast to close out the waiting period for the 2014 Rip Curl Pro Bells, the surfers that survived the mid-rounds wanted to finish the contest today. They wanted out of Torquay. They wanted to get back to their families and/or the people and things that prevent them from wanting a family for a few more years. They wanted that damn bell to be rung — even if it meant they had to hear Hell’s Bells again. And who could say no to that? Not ACDC, that’s for sure.
But first, finish her….
Yesterday was the first time the women surfed Bells since Day 1 and no, that’s not a trick statement. For the past few days, the ladies were only given the stage at high tide — when the stage crawled over to Rincon. But today, Belles at Bells. Turns out proper Bells is a great host for women’s surfing. The wave offers a perfect two-turn wall for breakfast, a time-killing-cutback midsection for lunch and a closeout for dinner. If you’re Nikki Van Dijk and it’s yesterday, you can even pounce onto dry reef for dessert. Yum! Today started with the semifinals. Nobody had room for dessert.
Sally Fitzgibbons looked for it and she looked for it, but she couldn’t seem to find the fire and put up only 10.53 points in her semi against Carissa Moore. Stephanie Gilmore found the fire that Sally sought, but only found it on one wave. Tyler Wright extinguished her and our final was set.
It felt so familiar. Carissa Moore. Tyler Wright. The same final we saw last year, the same final we saw last week, and the same result we’ve come to expect. Both girls opened with a 7.50, but Carissa’s proceeding 8.73 bested Tyler’s 8.27. Carissa’s rail work was out of this women’s surfing world.
OK, now you can finish him…
Round 5 — the pooor man’s quarterfinals — started us up, like the Rolling Stones said it would. And we never stopped. Not even once.
Gabriel Medina: The still world number one lost to countryman Adriano de Souza and speculations that the two hate each other spiked to an all-time high. Still, must be nice holding onto that ratings lead going into your home country.
Adam Melling: Melling lost to Kelly Slater. Or something like that.
Jordy Smith: How fun is controversy? Not that fun, if you ask Jordy Smith. Jordy needed a 9.97 in the final breaths of his heat against Julian Wilson. He caught a wave and surfed it with the ferocity of an endangered polar bear…for a 9.93. The internet. Was. Pissed.
Freddy Pataccchia: It’s a goofy eat goofy world out there and Fred got eaten by Owen Wright.
And then came the real quarterfinals. Here’s who bit the dust…
Adriano de Souza: Adriano had been dropping anvils all event, but he couldn’t drop one on Taj Burrow’s head — what a little roadrunner Taj is. Even though he lost, Adriano will be staying in Torquay and trying to grow his relationship with Bells so that he can be better next year. Given the mass exodus of everyone else and the fact that the next event is in Brazil, ADS deserves a standing ovation for this.
Kelly Slater: John Johned him in one of the most anticipated, least delivering heats of the day…Kelly hasn’t been Kelly this year.
Joel Parkinson: Julian beat Parko at Parko’s game. It was either a paradigm shift or a great day for Julian. You know, one or the other.
Owen Wright: It’s a Mick Fanning eat goofy world out there and Owen got eaten.
And so there were four. You can do so many things with four people. You can all fit in a two-door sedan and listen to Nickelback, you can play foursquare or even go bowling. They did none of those things. Instead, they had the semifinals.
Taj Burrow and John John Florence on one end of the draw, Julian Wilson and Mick Fanning on the other. Juxtaposition you can taste!. Two 30+ year olds and two faces of the now. And we moved to Winkipop, which is like the slender sibling of Bells. A little bit steeper, a little bit shorter and not so comfortable in front of large crowds.
Taj and John were hairy neck and younger, not so hairy neck for the 35 minutes of their final. In the closing scene, JJF needed a 6.34 and ripped a smaller wave for a 6.10. He didn’t smile much afterwards. Then Mick and Julian brought the peppers! Julian took an early lead in the heat, but Mick swiftly came back and put him on the ropes. As fate was wrote, Julian needed a 9.77 under Mick’s priority in the last minute. A wave came in, Julian paddled and Mick let him go. It was a stand-up move from the 3x champ, and something that 95% of the tour wouldn’t have done. Julian got an 8.93. Again, applause please.
Karma loves a good sportsman. Mick stayed gold in the final, surfing waves in that way that only Mick Fanning can. Taj was no slouch, smashing a wave for 9.63 points, but the cat got the ocean’s tongue and he never got the chance to try for the 7.20 he needed. Mick won. And we were finished.
We’ll leave you with an anecdote. As Mick walked up the stairs after his victory, he stopped to sign a kid’s t-shirt. This kid was 12-years-old, max, and easily the happiest kid on earth at that moment. As Mick walked away, the kid shouts, “Let’s go drink some bee-ar!” A chuckle was shard by all — although the kid was the only one who was kidding.
Suffice to say, there will be a lot of people with headaches, queasy stomachs, anxiety and all the other joys of a hangover on airplanes tomorrow. Bless them all, each and every one of them.