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Friday, April 6, 2012

Watching Bells Beach

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?

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At April 6, 2012 at 1:03 PM , Blogger Jolene said...

I am not a huge sports fan but for me, there is something I love about a Red Sox game. Summer, warm nights, just fun! (but these pictures of the beach also make me drool!)

At April 6, 2012 at 3:46 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Hmmmm, I'm not sure about this since I'm a big Yankee fan. This might put a wrench in our friendship :-) But you're right, there's nothing like a baseball game, especially one at Fenway Park. I will admit that Fenway is a pretty amazing ballpark. I too am dreaming of the beach!!

At April 7, 2012 at 2:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always loved watching gymnastics. When the Olympics were in Sydney I had tickets to just about all the womens events. I also stay up to date on various gymblogs and am a keen fan of the US college gymnastics as well. How much fun does that look and the gymnasts are so talented! Lately however I am finding I could trade my no.1 sport for watching surfing. Like you I could watch anything surfing over and over. I think I am definitely hooked! Stay well, Bron

At April 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I never really thought that I would be hooked on professional surfing but I find it really fascinating, especially now I know a little bit more about the judging criteria and how the contests work. I am super excited for the Olympics!! I love watching gymnastics but my favorite is swimming. I get a bit riled up watching that too :-)

At April 8, 2012 at 10:06 PM , Anonymous tracy@sellabitmum said...

How very cool! And may I say I love watching an 'old' guy rock a sport like that! (I'm only calling him old since he is younger than I am) lol xo

At April 9, 2012 at 5:07 PM , Blogger Christine said...

He seriously amazes me. He puts those young'uns to shame.


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