Tomorrow marks the commencement of the 2011 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and the 50th Anniversary of competitive surfing at Bells.
The world’s best surfers have descended on the small Victorian town of Torquay for the second stop on the 2011 ASP World Title season.
Ten-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) is a four-time past winner of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (1994, 2006, 2008, and 2010). Despite his experience, the defending event champion said, he will not be underestimating his round one opponent Rip Curl Pro Trials winner Adam Robertson (Vic).
Twenty-eight year-old Robertson is a proven performer at Bells Beach having finished runner-up to Joel Parkinson (Aus) in 2009. Superb surfing from Robertson today saw him clinch his sixth wildcard position into the Rip Curl Pro.
Slater responded to queries regarding his campaign for an 11th ASP World Title in characteristic fashion.
“If I wasn’t hungry to win an 11th ASP World Title, then I wouldn’t be here,” Slater said.
Kelly Slater steering his way to Bells victory in 2006 / Image: ASP/Karen
Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, current No. 2 in the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title, rang the Bell in 2007, and after finishing Runner-Up at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, is one of the favourites heading into this event.
“This event gets more special every year,” Burrow said. “I couldn’t believe when I saw it’s been going for 50 years. I had a lot of fun here last year surfing at few different spots like Winki and Johanna. Everyone in the event wants to ring that Bell. I’ve got one big Bell and two small ones, so I look forward to trying to get up there again.”
Burrow will battle Adam Melling (AUS), 26, and Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, in the opening round of competition.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, former two-time ASP World Champion (2007, 2009) and last year’s Runner-Up at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, opened up his 2011 campaign with an uncharacteristic 13th place on the Gold Coast but will look to rectify his slow start with a solid result at Bells Beach.
Fanning said he has put his frustrating result in the opening event behind him and is looking forward to competing in good conditions.
Fanning has drawn Rip Curl Wildcard Gabriel Medina (BRZ) and Tiago Pires (PRT), in the Round 1.
Epic surf conditions are predicted for the 50th anniversary of the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach this Easter. The Rip Curl Pro has been starved of great surf in recent years, but this years forecast is looking extremely promising with competition expected to commence as early as tomorrow.
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACHROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT), Gabriel Medina (BRA)
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Dusty Payne (HAW), Stu Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), Adam Robertson (AUS)
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Taylor Knox (USA), Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 8: Michel Bourez (PYF), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 9: Damien Hobgood (USA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 10: Bede Durbidge (AUS), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Chris Davidson (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 12: Brett Simpson (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)