The ASP World Tour of Surfing Stop 3 : The Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach Australia
The Australian leg of the world tour has delivered two unexpected winners so far. Gabe Medina breaking the goofy hoodoo at Snapper and Michel Bourez winning his first ever event at Margaret River. So as the Antipodean leg wraps at Bells, a traditionally pretty open location, the event is impossible to predict.
The open faced (some may say fat), righthander is good for both goofies and regular footers with room for big carves, if a little lacking in a lip . Having said that, although they have come close, a goofy footer hasn't won here since the legendary Occy rang the famous Bell trophy in 1998.
Last year though goofy footer Nat Young went on a serious run which helped him win rookie of the year. So the fact that Gabriel Medina, a goofy, sits top of the tour rankings, and has already won a regular dominated event on the Gold Coast, gives the right foot forward crew some hope.
As well as being a standard contest on tour, Bells has the extra spice of being one of the longest running pro contests. Ringing the famous bell is as big an event win as any and so the title is hotly contested. This year as stop three it has extra importance, if you want to start building a title challenge then coming off the Aussie leg in a strong possition is essential.
In the past this leg has only been two events long, so even guys who have made solid starts here have been known to fade away quickly. But with the third stop added in there, it's a good chance to build some quick back to back results, especially if you're Brazilian.
The Brazilians traditionally do well in Australia, and with the Rio event straight after, it could be just the springboard Gabriel Medina needs to make the first really legit charge on a title by one of the new crop of surfers from South America. But it won't be easy.
Momentum will play a big part here and five men have it, Gabriel Medina, Joel Parkinson, Kelly Slater, Michel Bourez and Josh Kerr, it would be our bet that the bell ringer will come from this group. There is an outside chance Nat Young could challenge here as well, the goofy footer comes from an equally as cold region, Santa Cruz, so will feel right at home.
In the women's it's all about Steph Gilmore and Carissa Moore at the moment, they have taken out an event each so far and look like they are going to be vying for the title all season long. Moore won this last year and comes into the event on the back of a victory so has to be favourite. But the likes of Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons will have something to say about things.
It all starts on the 16th, the time difference is pretty savage for us Europeans, but if you're keen you can fins the web cast here - www.aspworldtour.com - The forecast is looking poor for the start, but the Easter weekend is looking pretty sick.