At times the WSL ends up fighting nature. They have no choice. They are not going to make the CT a tour of open waiting periods, with surfers jetting in from all over to meet a swell at various locations. They have a calendar tour, and it is preset, with the only bit of wiggle space being the event’s waiting periods. When you fight nature, it’s nature that tends to win.

For Bells this year, the waiting period might just not be enough. The forecast is fairly dire, there is not much to look forward to, and one of the biggest events might just finish with a whimper as opposed to that bang we all love so much.

Putting the acquired knowledge of the performances at Duranbah last week together with what was witnessed at Winki for the first heats of the first round, there is a faint outline of a pattern emerging.

The good.

Jordy has re-calibrated. It might be the fact that he is off the turps (that’s booze, not Joey) for now and is watching his diet, but he has definitely shifted gear. Quietly, and significantly, he seems to have chosen a path of resoluteness and is sticking to it like shit on an army blanket. There’s a good feeling resonating around him. He’s happy, but not overtly so. There’s simple positivity and quiet belief.

Jordy savaging a lip in the lead up to the Bells event. Photo: Miller

Similarly with Kolohe, there’s a shift of sorts. Calm and confident; Kolohe seems to have rejigged his approach to life somehow. He seems more knowledgeable, definitely more accepting, and ready to do what needs to be done to win heats. Maybe it’s because he realises that in order for his time to come, he needs to decide for it to come. Jordy and Kolohe are going to have big years. Their wins yesterday were just a taste of what’s to come.

Kolohe Andino looks intent on establishing himself as a serious world title contender. Photo: Miller

Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina still have everything in their makeup to win heats, events and world titles. They both come across as totally geared up for victory, as well as prepped for media duties and all the associated stuff that comes with being a professional surfer. It seems like Gabriel will no longer be crying on stage, and it seems like Filipe will continue to stick the craziest airs in the competitive arenas. They were the two surfers who seemed to have the best equipment for the conditions today, with Gabby opting for thicker equipment, to glide, while Fil seemed to have found his fastest board yet.

Toledo was back to top form in his round one heat at the Rip Curl Pro. Photo: Barripp

The bad.

Poor old Kelly Slater. He does seem a little detached in the water, but from all accounts is being a real sport on land. There are so many ways this could pan out, but many people really want it to end well for the GOAT.

I’m sure it will, but with the forecast for this event looking so dismally shit, it’s going to be more fumbling, more desperation, more people like me questioning if he is doing the right thing. We can be thankful that at least he’s at Bells. In the past, when a forecast looked this poor, he’d simply phone in and tell the WSL that he had a broken back or neck or something, turn his one phone off, pack his private one, and head out to perfect Cloudbreak for a week-long swell. He’s done that at JBay on a poor forecast sans qualms remember? At. Least. He’s. Here.

Kelly fans breathed a sigh of relief when he scraped through round one yesterday. Photo: Barripp

The ugly.

Love the guy. Hate the surfing. Those backhand reverse tailslides that Italo is doing, sometimes twice on a wave, aren’t nice. They make other people use capital letters in derogatory phrases on websites and social chats the world over. Admittedly, it’s not fair play to write off the one surfer who is doing his best to shake things up and surf differently when the waves are so abysmal, but watching it sometimes makes me grimace, much like when I’m forced to down a shot that I really, really don’t like.

Italo and his girlfriend, Maria, who is also his board caddy. Photo: Miller

The Australian contingent is looking fairly average at this stage of the game as well, and lets face it, big man Wade is going to continue to fumble in the shit surf, and tall man Owen might too. Julian has the propensity to force some big scores from the poor surf, simply out of pure hunger for a title, and Jacob Willcox has got absolutely nothing to lose, so hopefully they’ll keep the flag flying for a bit. Apart from those two, Wade, Soli, Jack and Owen all came stone last in their opening encounters, and the new system does not make it any easier whatsoever for them from their perspective, at the bottom.

Wildcard, Jacob Willcox, was one of the standouts from the Ozi camp. Photo: Barripp

There’s always a chance that nature might give everyone a reprieve and send some surprise surf that not even the intelligentsia at surfline could see, or maybe they’re going to change tune to head on down to Johanna. It has happened many times before, just not in the last five years or so. Either way, let’s keep it positive.

Julian Wilson has been running hot in Freesurf sessions. Oz fans will be hoping he can carry the form into the contest.

More results here https://www.worldsurfleague.com/events/2019/mct/2909/rip-curl-pro-bells-beach/results

Grim forecast here https://www.surfline.com/surf-news/2019-rip-curl-pro-bells-beach-official-forecast/49483