It's a good day for pro surfing!
Like employees wary of their potential expulsion, Bells and Margies came into 2017 with renewed sense of vigor and verve. Both produced consistently big, consistently cleanish swell for the entirety of their contest windows. Really makes a viewer think.
Finals day at the 2017 Rip Curl Pro Bells was a Commissioner’s dream — a full ten hours of solid surf matched with doubly solid surfing. The day’s heat average teetered around sixteen, which pretty much speaks for itself. Oh and, fun storylines!
John vs. Mick (and Owen) in round four
An amazing heat on paper doesn’t typically equate to inspired viewing. This heat broke the mold by producing the highest scoring, most climactic moment of the event. After Mick dropped a near-nine and near-ten, John became the honorary mayor of Comboville. In world champion fashion John responded with a mid-nine and saw a glimmer of hope. With one minute remaining and a nine-something required, John took off on a lumpy, windswept wall and did something nobody has ever done: a six-foot alleyoop on a legitimate Bells bomb. 9.97.
The Zeke fiasco
Man catches wave on horn; chaos ensues. Potential beatdowns a la Sunny Garcia. Judges cower in fear. Read more about that here.
Filipe, in general
Bless this little lightning rod. Filipe’s ability in the air is innate. That shouldn’t make it any less impressive, but for some reason it does. Alternatively, Filipe’s ability to sink the rail came from years of nose-to-the-grindstone labor. Sure it’s more fun than laying brick, but Filipe’s commitment to power-surfing (roughly 200% improvement from 2015) is honorable. Imagine if he shifted that focus toward Teahupo’o, Pipe, etc…
The curse of round five
None of the surfers relegated to round five made it through to the semis. Is this a result of fatigue, psychological weight or merely coincidence? The world may never know.
Can Anybody Beat John?
Yes, WSL. His name is Caio Ibelli. You might remember him from the two times he beat John last year. He’s 3-1 vs. John, career.
It’s also worth mentioning that the two semis John has lost in 2017 came down to overly-conservative surfing. John’s coach, the wonderful Ross Williams, noted mid-semi that he was happy for John to have his first “normal” heat of the event, meaning he got one strong score and back-up early on in the match. Then Caio happened. Again.
Frederico Morais and Caio Ibelli are as flashy as a bag o’ potatoes but equally as nourishing. They surf, for lack of a better metaphor, like dads. Strong, sturdy, always there when you need ’em and even sometimes when you don’t. I didn’t have either on my team so it was painful to watch them tear apart the talent-rich field. That said, I respect the hell outta what they do.
With forty bucks on the line, my heart jumped when Jordy took that last wave in the semi. The Saffa needed a 7.25, and I could really use the gas money. When he stomped the final lip-line float I squealed with glee. Still, I wanna offer congratulations to Zeke. Dude surfed a Herculean event and you can bet no one wants to draw his name from this point on.
Caio looked significantly more solid on his feet and he picked better waves than Jordy all day. With that in mind, I slated him as the unlikely favorite going into the final. He surfed that 9.63 to perfection and was a legitimate threat until the dying seconds. It’s amazing how many guys could potentially win an event on Tour in 2017.
A claiming Jordy is my favorite Jordy. When those fanatical gestures start pouring out, well that must be the greatest expression of happiness I can imagine. Jordy’s preemptive bell-ring made me laugh out loud. The silly, the smile! Who could hate that?
Jordy’s final performance was an example of an athlete peaking in confidence. Backwashy floaters, under-the-lip larries, and sandy faceplants had no chance at stopping the big Saffa. He got his bell, I got my forty bucks. Everybody wins!