The 50th anniversary of this historic contest, up until yesterday, had been all about Bells Beach nostalgia and past champions, but today it was upstaged by the perfect weather and the best swell of the year at Bells' little sister, Winki Pop. Located a few hundred yards to the east of Bells, most surfers agree that Winki Pop is the better high performance wave. The Bells bowl can have a fat shoulder on large swell, while Winki Pop provides speed down the line with barrels and juicy sections to hit.
Round two is probably the most stressful round of a world tour event. No one wants to find themselves there after a round one loss, because a round two loss means equal 25th -- otherwise known as "last place." Jordy Smith was an angry man yesterday after losing his first round heat against the local wildcard surfer, Adam Robertson, who has grown up surfing Bells and Winki. Smith was feeling real pressure -- a loss in the second round could jeopardize his whole 2011 title campaign while Robertson, who finished second to Joel Parkinson in 2009, had nothing to lose but a bit of local pride.
Organizers had run round two of the women's in near perfect Bells, but made the call to shift it to Winki Pop because they were worried that the highest tide of the year was going to make Bells uncontestably deep. Smith and Robertson, in the first heat of round two, were the Winki Pop guinea pigs, both tearing the clean six-foot walls apart. The result of the heat came down to the last two waves ridden, with Smith taking the first wave of the set and Robertson taking the bigger second wave.
Depending on who you talk to, the result could have gone either way. Locals on the rocks reckoned it should have been Robertson in first place while veteran tour watchers figured it should have been Smith's heat. Legend Nat Young was sitting with founders of Rip Curl, Doug 'Claw' Warbrick and Brian Singer, and reckoned it should have gone to the local, but the judges saw it differently.
With Robertson back on the beach, Smith sat in the water. Robertson was raising his arms for the result while Smith sat there, low in the water with his head in his hands. When the result was called out Smith threw a shaka for the webcast camera on a nearby jet ski, while Robertson shoulders sagged and he retuned to his cheer squad.
"It was pretty stressful waiting out there for the result," Smith said about the delay in calling out the scores, "I saw his last wave and I had no idea what they were going to give me, because I'd heard he got a good barrel at the start of the wave and then he got another one at the end. I was hoping they were going to judge variety over barrels, so I was happy when I got the score."
"Round two is such a nerve-racking round, and I haven't really slept in over 40 hours. Last night I did fall asleep on the couch around 8:00, then woke up around 11:00, and couldn't get back to sleep. I stayed awake the whole night. I'm just buzzing right now, but hopefully I'll be able to sleep tonight."
In another heat that could count towards the 2011 title, Bobby Martinez knocked out Taj Burrow in a backhand versus forehand heat. Martinez was trying to make his way along the high tide Winki Pop rocks and having a hard time of it with waves smashing into the rocks and white water and backwash impeding his progress. When I stopped him for a comment he was amped from his win and his answer was short and not so sweet: "About [explative] time!," was all he had to say before he continued his trek along the rocks.
Martinez has struggled with form for over a year and results have been hard to come by. Considering he'd just defeated Taj Burrow, the current number twoin the world, you'd think Bobby would have been satisfied with getting through to the next round, but he was still not completely happy with the result and let fly during a post heat interview about the scoring. You can always rely on Martinez to call it how he sees it.
On the women's side, Carrisa Moore came back from a round one loss to rack up the best combined heat score of the whole event with two nine point wave scores in her heat against wild card Nikki Van Dijk.
"I couldn't believe the conditions we were surfing in. It's probably the best waves I've surfed since I made it onto the Tour, I was laughing about how good it was."
With the swell predicted to keep on coming, the contest organizers are in a very pleasurable position of picking and choosing when and where to run the rest of the contest. We shall see what today brings.
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.43 def. Adam Robertson (AUS) 16.26
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.70 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 7.90
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA) 16.16 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.93
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) 17.24 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.04
Heat 5: Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.17 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 11.44
Heat 6: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.10 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 11.84
Heat 7: Gabe Kling (USA) 11.67 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 5.00
Heat 8: Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.84 def. Daniel Ross (AUS) 12.84
Heat 9: Chris Davidson (AUS) 16.10 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.83
Heat 10: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.17 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 8.10
Heat 11: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 15.10 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.97
Heat 12: Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.77 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 8.06
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 5: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Stu Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 8: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 9: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 11: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
RIP CURL WOMEN'S PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 11.83 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 11.50
Heat 2: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 16.33 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 12.53
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 18.23 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10.90
Heat 4: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 13.03 def. Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 4.83
Heat 5: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.00 def. Alana Blanchard (HAW) 7.16
Heat 6: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.84 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 10.30
RIP CURL WOMEN'S PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Silvana Lima (BRA), Chelsea Hedges (AUS), Melanie Bartels (HAW)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW), Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Tyler Wright (AUS), Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)