I have a confession. I love watching surf contests. I know that I’ve mentioned it before but I really do. This week was the 2012 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia, the second of ten events on the ASP World Championship Tour. Since the contest was held in Australia, it didn’t usually start until about 5pm EST, which meant that I had most of the day to work. On the flip side, that also meant that I spent many late nights watching heat after heat of the contest.
Yesterday, they ran the Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals of the Men’s event. The first semifinal, Kelly Slater versus Jeremy Flores, was a bit of a bummer. Jeremy never seemed to get into a groove after Kelly scored a 9.93 out of 10 points on his first wave of the heat. Then, when Jeremy finally gets a great ride, he’s called for interference. Kelly had taken off on a wave but was too deep on the wave to really get past the section and make it back on the open face. Jeremy took off on the same wave but further down the line and got a good score. But the interference penalty meant that Jeremy’s highest scoring wave in the heat would be cut in half, pretty much making it impossible for him to win. Kelly won the heat 15.10 to Jeremy’s 7.83. In the second semifinal, Mick Fanning took on Joel Parkinson.
Coming into this event, my pick to win the event was either Taj Burrow or Joel. Unfortunately, Taj was eliminated in the third round. Both Joel and Mick have been the guys to beat. Did you know that since 2009, either Mick or Joel has been in every final at Bells Beach? And, in the 13 times that these two have faced off, Joel has won 10 times? Needless to say, it was a great heat and they battled back and forth. Ultimately, Mick (15.83) defeated Joel (14.43).
By that time, it was somewhere past midnight, probably closer to 1am. They weren’t going to start the finals for another hour or so and I knew that I had to go to sleep. I really really wanted to say up and watch what would no doubt be an epic final between Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater. Apparently, they didn’t disappoint, exchanging wave after wave during the 35-minute heat. Despite Kelly’s full rotation aerial which resulted in a perfect 10-point score, Mick won with 18.80 to Kelly’s 18.07. They say that this final is the best in Bell’s history.
What gets me time and time again is what a freak of nature Kelly Slater is. I mean, he turned 40 in February and continues to get better and better. But it’s not only his surfing ability, it’s the fact that he seems to commune with the ocean and the ocean serves him up gorgeous sets of waves right when he needs it or he lands ridiculous aerials that he seems to throw in just for the heck of it.
My favorite heat of the event was in Round 3 – Kelly vs. Nic Muscroft one of the best local surfers. In the last minutes of the heat, Nic earns a 9.5 to take the lead. Kelly needed a score of 8.07 or better to win. In the last minute, a huge set of waves comes in. Not only does Kelly takes off on one but he actually has time to paddle back out and catch another wave before the buzzer. He crushes the wave and throws a Hail Mary aerial at the end and stomps it on the beach. He wins 17.00 vs. 16.30. Freak of nature.
You can watch videos of the heats here. Just select the round and heat you want to watch from the drop-down menu. I can’t wait for the next event – the Billabong Rio Pro beginning on May 9.
Tell me, are you a sports fan? Do you get riled up watching games/matches/contests like I do?