Fri, 26 April 2019

Most of the time, Bells Beach is a relatively innocuous walling point, but yesterday, the iconic spot bared its teeth as the 50 Day Storm arrived, writes Spike.

Ferreira I0786_BellsDunbar19

HEAVY BRU: Italo Ferreira is comforted after surviving a horrendous beating. Photo WSL / Dunbar

At last, some drama. There were gut-curdling wipeouts, brutal hold-downs, and board-cracking tussles with big growling walls of water. There were double-barrelled descriptions of the waves too. The Winki Pop reef was surging, and there were some close shaves with the Button - that hellish slab below cliffs that is sketchy enough on a 6-8 foot day.

All the hype was in a sense justified, although the marketing wank about the 50 Year Storm was downright silly. Perhaps call it the 38 YEAR STORM (since the last time there were proper big waves for the Rip Curl Pro Bells in 1981).

There were sets to 15 foot, and there was carnage. Italo Ferreira won't forget his beatdown in a hurry. The look on his face as he was comforted after his heat was no fake news. He was geniunely shaken.

Eight men and four women remain in the game. In the fourth quarterfinal tomorrow two former Bells winners - Jordy Smith and Ferreira - will battle it out. Jordy is looking powerful, and you have to think he's a strong contender. It's going to be an epic day to watch from 11pm tonight ZA time, when the 50 Day Storm delivers the peak of the swell, a thumping open ocean 25 foot x 17 second storm sea and stiff westerlies. If there was a time to pull an all-nighter, this is as good as any.

I found the quotes from the surfers after a tough day at the office quite revealing. Take Malia Manuel (HAW). She makes her first Semifinal appearance at Bells after beating Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), who was hoping to clinch back-to-back Bells title this year.

“I survived the 50-year storm today, which is great,” Manuel said, as quoted by the WSL in a cheeky or is that a tongue-in-cheek punt after the surf media banged on about how doff it is to conflate mythical storms with the same number of years that title sponsors have been around (50).

“I had a bigger board, which definitely helped with paddling and then when I was on the wave the extra rail really helped control all of the speed. Coming from Hawaii means I’ve got good experience on bigger boards and in bigger surf.”

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SPRAY BUCKETS: Gabby Medina surfed like a Brazilian possessed. What's new? Photo WSL / Dunbar

Medina spoke about the conditions instead of his opponent. That's something. “I got so worked and took a couple of sets on the head, so I’m really tired right now. It’s a good size and hard to hang in there with a lot of water moving. That’s what happens when it’s like this, sometimes you break the board or a leash, but I love it like this.”

John John got washed over the Button and past Bells Beach down to Winkipop. He was picked up by water safety, not that you'd think he felt anything out of the ordinary.

“It’s so big out there right now and it’s pretty scary,” Florence said. “There’s so much water moving around and you’re ending up so close to the shelf at Winki. Bells feels similar to Hawaii for me. This wave has a lot of power to it and it’s windy. In Hawaii, we tune all our boards for that. These waves are fun for me because you’re going so fast. You don’t have to generate any of the speed. You can really set your rail if you get a clean face on it. In waves like this everyone has to change their entire game plan. Hopefully, the waves are still pumping.”

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AQUA WOMAN: Courtney Conlogue caught some bombs to set up a semi berth. Photo WSL / Cestari

Fresh off his early round loss on the Gold Coast, Kelly Slater (USA) cruised into the Quarterfinals: “It’s wild and wooly out there today and there are some massive waves coming through,” Slater said. “I got smashed by a few and think if I saw waves that big in Hawaii, I’d be so scared.” If the king felt close to scared, the minions had best beware.

The other contenders? Filipe Toledo (BRA) is in with a shot at a maiden Bells title tomorrow. The American teenager Caroline Marks, 17, is looking super strong in the big surf, and so is Lakey Peterson. Check it out live on www.WorldSurfLeague.com. Caroline Marks_2553Bells19Cestari

TEENAGER TEARING: Caroline Marks is dynamite in a 17-year-old package. Photo WSL / Cestari

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Quarterfinal
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 8.67 DEF. Coco Ho (HAW) 8.16
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.17 DEF. Carissa Moore (HAW) 9.37
Heat 3: Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.77 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 8.70
Heat 4: Caroline Marks (USA) 11.83 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 5.97

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Semifinal
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 4
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 10.80 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 6.87
Heat 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.93 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 9.93
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.10 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 7.13
Heat 4: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 11.80 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 10.04
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.27 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 7.76
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 18.16 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 16.97
Heat 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.20 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 6.03
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.10 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.03

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Quarterfinal
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)

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