Jimmicane’s Passion Picks: 2015 Rip Curl Pro Bells

WSL passion picks-bells2015Jimmicane’s Passion Picks: 2015 Rip Curl Pro Bells

With seeding this wacky, enjoy it while it lasts and create your very own Dream Team.

The Elite
Filipe Toledo
After spending the past week in Indonesia watching this beast in person, it’s impossible not to pick him. Filipe has taken his game to a new level. The freak factor is still there and he could stick the air of the century in any given heat, but his improved rail work is the game changer for me. It’s not just “good for Filipe” anymore. It’s straight up good. Match that with his landing percentage — which is through the roof — and you have a legitimate World Title contender. Not in a few years, but right now.

Mick Fanning
If there was a time Mick Fanning looked better on a surfboard I can’t recall it. His surfing in the Quik Pro was flawless. After a quick stint in Bali with the Reef crew, I’ve already heard reports of him making Winkipop his bitch. But you already knew.

Maybe you should consider…

Adriano de Souza
The Australian government makes yearly profits off tour surfers speeding to Melbourne Airport after losing. It’s a straight-up ghost town by the final day because no one sticks around. No one except for Adriano. Jan Juc is this guy’s second home. He stays put long after the contest ends and it surprised zero locals to see him win in 2013. If nothing else, ADS is a guarantee to give you solid points and not bomb out early.

The Grinders
Jordy Smith
If Jordy ever wants to consider himself a legitimate World Title contender again, he better come out of the gates blazing and capitalize on events like this. 5th’s and 9th’s at right point breaks just won’t cut it. He’s looked the part the past two years at Bells, but arguably been screwed by the judges. After hearing about some incredible freesurf performances following Snapper, he’s an easy choice to go first off the board in my Grinders bracket.

Gabriel Medina
In five years surfing this event, Gabriel has never put up a result better than 9th (2014). So why take a chance on him now? It’s hard for me to imagine him struggling in back-to-back events. Let’s face it, the backhand looked on point before melting down against Micro and then Pete Mel.

John John Florence
I can vividly remember sitting in the channel last year watching John implode against Tiago Pires. He was pulling into closeout barrels and certainly not looking like the most paid man in surfing . With two minutes left, he remembered his name is John John and ripped a wave, getting the required score to win the heat. What followed soon after was one of the better airs seen in competition and a respectable 3rd place finish. If he can manufacture another semifinal or better here, the Brazilian Storm fan page should start to feel some nerves.

Kelly Slater
I never thought I’d be hesitant to start Kelly in the Grinders bracket, but this was no shoo-in. The last time Slater made the semis was at Lowers (and could’ve easily been Tahiti had Taj not thrown his priority in the garbage at Trestles). Fact is, Kelly doesn’t scare people in rippable waves anymore. At age 43, it’s just too damn hard to hang with these 20 somethings (and Mick Fanning) when it’s not tubing. My reasoning for the pick stems from my excitement to see this new Firewire/Tomo shape under his feet. Simon Anderson changed the game at Bells in 1981, introducing the thruster and winning in dominant fashion. Might Kelly do the same 34 years later?

Maybe you should consider…

Kolohe Andino
What a difference a year makes. The Kolohe I saw here in 2014 was one thread from mental breakdown. Now it takes a freak bracket and a potential revolutionary new surfboard to keep him off my squad.

The Strugglers and Wildcards
Michel Bourez
The past three years have found Michel in dead last place here. Yikes. The safe pick might be Melling, but Passion Picks looks for lightning in a bottle. Not many can go from three years in the basement to winning an event. Michel can.

Kai Otton
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Kai Otton. This dude is sneaky good on the Bells Bowl finishing 13th, 5th and 5th the past three years. I give him a slight advantage over Jeremy Flores, but only because Jeremy thinks the world/judges are against him.

Maybe you should consider…

Mason Ho
He might not be the smartest pick, but it sure would be fun to watch and root for Mason. The old school Passion Picks would’ve never denied him but the newer, less exciting, Ross Williams-esque version of me has somehow emerged. I guess this is growing up? Take a chance people.