Photos by Steve Sherman
Bells rewards an athlete. It’s a physically demanding arena. Strange waves that require your undivided attention. Your legs and lungs will burn. It will swat you down. It will break you. Make you punch your board and scream obscenities. You must be willing to fight it back. And after the performances put on by Sally Fitzgibbons and Mick Fanning today, I’m rather convinced that some good hard training and commitment can in fact aid in shredding of the strange Bells bowl. It is not a wave made for the beer drinking heathens in the VIP. It’s made for focused, determined men and women who can grind a wave for an entire minute and then navigate what has to be the most awkward inside section of all time.
It rewards competitors. Radical, focused and determined competitors. I see why Dane decided Bells wasn’t the event to come back at now. Dane is not a competitor. But Sally Fitzgibbons is. This place is made for passionate gladiators. And training isn’t even all it takes. It takes something else too. It takes emotion. And Sally Fitzgibbons had that today as well.
Sally dominated every single heat she surfed, never posting lower than an 18 point total throughout the day (stop and consider the radical consistency that requires for a moment). She mixed up her surfing as well, combining flowing carves and fin releases. She was the woman to beat all day. And she made me 40 Australian dollars (which is way more than 40 American dollars).
The other night at the Rip Curl 50th Anniversary of the Easter Rally, Sally was in attendance and sat front row (looking stunning, tan skin, all white dress), watching as the legends she’s always idolized rang that bell less than 25 feet from her. Today she had her shot to add her name to the list, and did she ever add her name. She engraved it deep. It was 8s or lates all day, and by the end she could hardly lift the damn bell she was so overcome with emotion.
“I can’t feel my legs and I’m trying so hard to keep from crying,” she said after the final against Carissa Moore. But she couldn’t hold out forever and the 20-year-old Australian shed a few well-deserved tears of joy. Passion wins again at Bells, the most demanding and emotional surf spot on tour.
In other news, Mick Fanning blew minds today. Surfing in the final heat of the loser-less Round 4, Mick posted two 9s and looked bulletproof. And while there were some incredible performances by Parko, Kelly, CJ Hobgood and the darkhorse of the event, Chris Davidson (I’m claiming him as the SURFING Magazine wildcard pick), it was all trumped by Fanning’s performance. This is Rip Curl country and Mick must be feeling a very strong sense of pride for his main sponsor because I honestly haven’t seen a Bells performance that virtuosic since Occy did that floater during the Skins event. Tomorrow morning, Easter Sunday, the men will return to the Bells bowl for what could be one of the most exciting days of surfing we’ve seen in a long time. The Aussie’s love the shit out of Easter (it’s the equivalent to spring break or something) and it’s meant to be pumping, yet again. And if Laura Enever has her way, Sally Fitz is going dancing tonight. Congrats Sally, let’s dance. —Travis Ferré
PS: Go Davo!