Surfers gear-up for Bells Rip Curl Easter Pro
THE 40th anniversary of the Rip Curl Easter Pro at Bells Beach, Victoria will be another special event on the surfing calendar.
It was back in 1973 that a group of surfers formed the beginning of professional surfing at a meeting at the Torquay Hotel.
Local wetsuit and board manufacturer Rip Curl, operating from an old bakery, put up the dough to sponsor the first Australian professional surfing competition with the winner receiving $5,000 and $100.00 cash prizes for best manoeuvres including worst wipeout.
Hawaii's George Downing had devised the new objective scoring system unveiled at Sunset Beach for the 1972 Hangten Pro and was adopted for the first pro at Bells.
The Objective scoring system was based on 'Points for manoeuvres' with every technical turn and position was listed on the judges sheet e.g. bottom turns, cutbacks, re-entry's, tube rides etc.
Judges would verbally call out the manoeuvres and then judges' assistants, better known as scribes, would dutifully tick off the manoeuvre boxes as the judges called the shots.
This system was tailor made for Michael Peterson who posted up the system on the inside front window of his trusty Valiant and studied it like a racing form. MP surfed the objective scoring system to a tee, jamming twice as many manoeuvres as anyone else and scoring twice as many points.
He was so blown out that he had won the event he didn't bother turning up for the presentation preferring to hide up on the Bells Cliff behind the bushes. Luckily he was sponsored by Rip Curl who ensured he was given the first prize cheque. Michael won three in a row at Bells and unmatched record that not even King Kelly can claim.
So, it is entirely fitting that MP's ashes will be scattered over the famous Bells Bowl by younger brother, Tommy, taken out on a jet ski just before the 2013 final.
For whom the Bell tolls will be absolutely critical to this year's ASP men's World Title.
Eleven times World Champion Kelly Slater, fresh from a win at Kirra, has thrown down the gauntlet saying he is 100% committed towards this year's World Tour and that the last five years has been a somewhat half-hearted approach.
This whole new focus unlike previous years where he would wait and see was prompted by someone very close and personal advising Kelly to give it his all. I'd be speculating to guess who gave Kelly the pep talk but it has all the hallmarks of Allan Green, better known as Greeny, who established Quiksilver (Kelly's number one sponsor.)
Kelly performance on the Gold Coast was as good, if not better, as we've seen. His arsenal is awesome, super fit, super relaxed and his boards are super small and loose.
Back in 2009, Kelly was labouring over this new short board design, but in 2013, it was redefined by arguably the world's best shaper, Al Merrick, and his latest 5/6 pocket rocket is way ahead of his rivals. This must be a daunting challenge for Parko and Mick's shapers, JS and DHD, let alone for their coaches Wes Berg and Phil Mac.
Both the Coolangatta challengers will need to lift substantially to peg Kelly back at Bells.
He almost won their last year, some people reckon he did and if he had of, the King would have won last year's World title.
One gets the impression that Slater desperately wants the World title back and if he wins his 12th he'll hang up his boots.
Nice to see that Indonesian Gold Coast based Oney Anwar has been granted a wildcard by his sponsor Rip Curl into the main event. This will be Oney's first foray against the top 34 in a World Championship Tour event at Bells Beach. Go for it Oney.
The 37th Byron Bay Easter Classic dedicated to the memory of Ben King will kick off on Easter Friday run by Ben's wife Jen and supported by the Byron Bay Boardriders.