Hell yes. Finally. I’m so happy this just happened. And in such classic fashion too! Despite heavy scrutiny of the wave at Bells. About the timing of the event. About the tour. About the judging. About blah blah blah, whatever people seem to complain about, the Rip Curl Pro Bells has just reinvigorated a World Tour, a wave and two of our favorite surfers’ careers. It’s just a splendid little tale. Gather around, there are stories to tell.
It went down in electric, legendary, timeless, classic (choose your magical adjective, they’ve all been used and abused this week) fashion here at Bells this year. I’m here, sitting in the VIP section, overlooking the Bells bowl right now, which is now hosting a herd of surfers (literally) towing in (yes, the swell filled in) and I feel like the Super Bowl just ended and my team won. The swell is marching through Bells and the festivities for Easter Sunday are just starting to cascade across the land.
With a record number of humans on hand to watch live, and parking lots closed and traffic backed up to Geelong, Joel Parkinson has sealed his third Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach title, and I can guarantee you that this one will be his favorite. The waves were flawless. It’s a holiday. He surfed against one of his best friends in the world. And his surfing was inspired and a damn pleasure to watch throughout the event. And for those of you who got to watch the moment in which Joel shut down Mick’s last second charge with a 10-point ride at the buzzer (he was literally in the barrel as the hooter went off), you will remember the buzz it gave you for a long time. I know I will. That was a pretty little moment. I seriously got goosebumps. And then, as the two boyhood buddies made their way to the shore — backdropped by the cliff-laden amphitheater at Bells — I watched Mick Fanning hoist Joel Parkinson on his back and chair him up the steps, his board dangling in the shorebreak, and I realized something: there is no other lifestyle like being a surfer. We win. We are the best. Cheers to Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson for epitomizing the passion and fun all in one moment.
“The fact that it’s the 50th anniversary makes it that much more special too,” Joel said afterwards. “I can’t remember a time Bells had waves this good. I’m so excited. I can’t believe this.” And as a spectator, we must log this moment in our collective memory banks, because, like the Curren/Occy clashes, like Occy’s floaters at the Skins event, like Andy Irons’ laybacks period, this is a moment we must store and pass along for the ages.
The atmosphere at this event has catapulted the World Tour back to an interesting place. Even without Dane, and with a lot of exciting surfers losing out early (Wilko, Bobby, Kerr, etc.), it still managed to demonstrate to the world that pro surfing can be a damn good time. Kelly got combo’d by Adriano de Souza, who looked fantastic throughout the event. Mick Fanning put on an absolute clinic at Bells all week, showcasing a dynamic repertoire of maneuvers. “I’ve been working on some new turns,” he said. And hot damn, they look good on the face of a Bells Beach wave. And Chris Davidson made us believe again. In everything.
And as I attempt to file this from the front line, on Easter Sunday in Australia, surrounded by celebrations, amid Tooheys Extra Dry cans and surfers and shuffleboard and laughing and face-paintings and tow-in showcases at Bells, I must say I have only one complaint: the judging of backside surfing throughout the event. Owen Wright, Ace Buchan, Jadson Andre and CJ Hobgood deserve some sort of medal. Their surfing was incredible to watch and often under-appreciated, so I’d like to take this moment and raise my glass for the goofy’s: grab one on us tonight. You deserve it, as do Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning. Thanks for putting on that show. We’ve missed that lately. Long live East-(ah) mate. And congrats to Bells Beach and Rip Curl and Parko. That was classic. —Travis Ferré