There are two types of WSL contests ...
... The event that drags out for 12 days, and tries to keep everyone amused and interested as we all wait patiently and hopefully for the swell to arrive, and the type of event that starts on day one of the waiting period and doesn't stop until winners are crowned. Everyone prefers the latter.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach looks like it is going to start off with a great little push of swell and there will be no doubt in most people’s minds that the event will get underway immediately. With Margies still fresh in our minds it will be a great way to keep the momentum going.
A full day of surfing on opening day takes so much pressure off everyone. The surfers have had their taste of the conditions and the water temperatures etc, and have felt their boards underfoot if they are new boards or old and trusted ones. The contest officials have had a day of event running, and the safety teams have had one full working day under the belt. Then the WSL team could pick the eyes out of the rest of the waiting period, choosing only the best of the best days.
The Bells event however looks very much like it will be done in the first week. The surfline.com forecast, which has been spot on of late for all the events that they work on, is calling for a good opening day, and then a few more ok days before a nice little pulse. The back end of the waiting period however, looks very slack.
Surfers who had a good run in the last event and surfed through to the later rounds are going to be those surfers with the most momentum. John John and Kolohe and Jordy are all going to be in the faster pack, along with Jack Freestone and Filipe Toledo and Owen Wright.
What can we expect?
Slater is going to make his move. While he of all people knows that the tour is a marathon and not a sprint, this is his time to initiate an attack on his 12th title. If nothing happens for the man at this event, he’s going to become reticent of his plans.
Flores is going to go hell-for-leather. He is fired up and surfing great, but there seems to be some sort of barrier to him getting the results he desires so much. He has a lot of passion and determination, and he will keep banfing at it until something gives.
Fanning will glide through to the quarters at the very least. He doesn't need to do that much at Bells to get a decent result. Even if he applies a connect-the-dot approach to this event, he has the nuances of the wave so dialed, and he has the speed-runs so wrapped that he pretty much just needs to surf two full waves per heat to advance.
Then we have the JJF phenomenon. It’s like the Jeep ratings leader is finally realizing his potential and starting to step into his destiny. When Slater was in the height of his ascendency on the world tour it was a time when people set their alarms around his heats, and spectators would fill up beaches and bleachers prior to his heat, watch rapt, and then disappear soon afterwards. This could easily be happening again. If you compare John’s surfing to some of the veteran surfers still clinging onto the Championship Tour (yes, we’re looking at you) you can easily see, from an external vantage point that no matter how incredibly skilled and talented these surfers are, the only advantage they’re going to have on the new talent-pool is good old experience, and while experience might be a massive boon, in the bigger picture it’s just not enough.