Preview: 2013 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia -- one of the most storied venues in surf history with natural bleachers, five decades of competition history, gorgeous backdrops and those perfect right handers, will play host to the 52nd annual Rip Curl Pro.
This is Kelly Slater. He has 11 world titles and at age 41, is dead set on another one. He won Bells in 2010, 2006 and way back in 1994. What else do you want us to say about him?
Carissa Moore, the 2011 ASP Women's world champ and first woman to take that honor from Stephanie Gilmore in modern times. After acing the Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River, she could light up Bells.
The current ASP World Champ showed no sign of slowing after making the finals at the Quiksilver Pro. He and Kelly Slater could be starting a friendly rivalry that may further develop at Bells. He rang the bell in 2004, 2009, and 2011.
Tyler Wright is on fire. After a quiet 2012, she came out of the gates this year with a win on the Gold Coast and a final at Margaret River. One of the toughest power surfers on the ladies' side, this could be her year.
Michel Bourez, "the Spartan," showed renewed vigor at the Gold Coast Pro, taking his campaign all the way to the semifinals. He will look to improve on last year's equal 17th place at Bells.
Two-time world champ Mick Fanning was in the title hunt at the last event of 2012 and already made the semis on the Gold Coast this year. He's also the defending champ at Bells. Expect him to be prepared for war.
Fitzgibbons has yet to win a world title, but she has rung the Bell the last two years in a row, which makes her the hottest ticket going into the Rip Curl Pro.
Jordy Smith is going to have to win something soon. No doubt the talent is there, but if he's going to be a world title contender, Bells would be a good place to launch that campaign.
The last two years Wilson's been knocked out of Bells uncharacteristically early. Requiring more rail work and an old school approach, he's struggled to translate his air game to Bells' open faces.
Stephanie Gilmore rang the Bell in 2007, 2008, and 2009. She had uncharacteristic slips at the Gold Coast and Margaret River, but she is done messing around. Expect to see her back in rhythm at Bells and in the finals.
Josh Kerr started last season hot, but finished kind of lukewarm. He just made the finals at the Prime at Margaret River. "Kerrzy" finished in the quarters at Bells last year, but needs to better that to spark a run.
Kelly Slater once called him the best young surfer on tour. That may be because Wright beat him here as a wildcard. But this is now Wright's fourth year on tour and time to show what he's got after making the quarters the last two years.
Who can forget the public sentiment to "Put Occy in Bells," last year after Mark Occhilupo went to the finals at Margaret River at 45 years old? There isn't quite the same rally call this year, but the 1998 Bells champ still gets plenty of respect here.