I’m getting ready for the 50th Anniversary Rip Curl Pro Bells Ball (and I’m praying my date doesn’t flake, it’s a good one), but there are a few things that we must quickly talk about: Bobby Martinez’s passion. Adam Robertson vs. Jordy. Josh Kerr’s career session at Winkipop. Dusty Payne’s devastating loss — that was bullshit by my estimates. The empty beer garden I had to sit in (miss you Dane, Freddy and Kekoa). And the unbelievable number of boards that were punched today (Taj, Taylor, Julian, Simpo, Raoni, Kai Otton and Dusty Payne to name a few).
But let’s start with Bobby:
“I been doing this my whole life,” he yelled into the camera during his post heat interview. “That was not a 7.83. I’m a fighter and I won’t back down.” During his heat, Bobby Martinez paddled out after posting an 8 and looked visibly upset. He flipped off the webcast camera and the judges and shook his fingers. But we couldn’t quite figure out why as he’d just gotten the wave of the heat with a solid score.
Turns out he didn’t like the score they gave Taj. “I know who their favorites are,” he continued after the heat. “But I’m a fighter. Taj can get 8s and 9s all the time. But I know that wasn’t a 7.83.” And afterwards, the visibly fired up Ventura local, who is sporting new Channel Islands boards that he absolutely loves, brought a level of passion — maybe at times a little off-base or a little Mar-Sheen_ez, but passion nonetheless — to a seemingly mundane and sedated sport. It’s good to see athletes get PASSIONATE. I love and support it. Punch that board, yell, kick, scream or don’t give a fuck. Just do something! Or claim it even when you don’t want to, as Josh Kerr did during his dream session at Winkipop.
“I don’t usually claim,” he said. “So sorry for those watching, I just couldn’t help it. I was having the time of my life.” If you saw his barrel rides you’ll forgive him.
Then, late in the day, another interesting heat: Kieren Perrow against Dusty Payne. Dusty seemed to have the heat locked away until Kieren got a right, did one big opening maneuver, two soft middle turns and a closing floater for a 7. Dusty followed up with a crisp three-turn wave for a 6, clearly low, sending Dusty peeling out of the Winkipop lot frustrated for the second year in a row. I don’t envy the job of the judges; today was an “interesting” day for them.
So while, in general, Round 2 is often a little slow, this year Winkipop and the Rip Curl Pro offered up some of the most pristine waves an event could ask for. Before his heat, Dusty even said: “Best World Tour waves I’ve seen yet.”
And with Easter weekend, sunshine and more swell coming, we’re going to make this 50th Anniversary one to remember. OK, I’m off to the Ball with my dance troop. Wish you were here. —Travis Ferré