Hells Bells! Kelly Slater has won his fourth Bells trophy. The only other surfer in the event's 49-year history to house four Bells trophies on his mantel is Aussie legend Mark Richards, who won four in 1978, '79, '80 and '82. Slater trumped 2009 World Tour champ Mick Fanning with a future-forward alley-oop for an 8.93 at Johanna Beach to win the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach on Friday.
Bobby Martinez started the day by asking Fanning, "If you were me, where would you surf?" Fanning just looked at him and broke up laughing. He then gave his good mate a half-decent reply. Martinez was trying to figure out whether to surf a left on the edge of the contest site or surf the right that everyone else was using. In the end, he surfed both.
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A few choice moments from the Rip Curl Pro's various venues. onClick="window.open('http://espn.go.com/action/surfing/gallery?id=5071217','Popup','width=990,height=720,scrollbars=no,noresize'); return false;">Gallery »
Martinez won his heat against Joel Parkinson on the lefts but lost his form in his semifinal against Slater. He left the beach disappointed but sitting comfortably in the No. 3 spot in the ratings. Fanning edged by Jordy Smith in the quarterfinals and bested Taj Burrow in the semi.
When Slater was asked how it felt to finally have four in his collection, he laughed and said, "I won three in five years, and it's taken me about another 20 to win this one."
It hasn't been exactly 20, but for Slater, it has been a long time coming. And now for the big question: Will this be the year for a 10th world title for "The King"? Slater reckons he's happy with his position in the ratings right now at No. 2.
"I'm two heat wins behind Taj right now, and Mick is three, so I figure we are both in pretty good positions considering the last two events have been run in waves that suit Taj. If after J-Bay we're still in the same position and Taj hasn't got a run on, then we'll both be in the world title chase."
Slater doesn't normally discuss his world title chances or prospects -- in years past, he's sometimes failed to show up when he's not in the hunt. Hence, this was a big reply in the scheme of things. Could it be No. 10 on 10/10/10? When I suggested this, Slater stopped and thought about it: "That would be Portugal. That would be interesting."
Yeah, interesting is probably an understatement.
After all the presentation hoopla was done, Slater grabbed his Bell and proceeded to walk through the crowd, letting the spectators and media "ring" it, figuring most people had never had the opportunity and probably never would. There were smiles all around. In a quiet moment later, Slater presented his trophy to the members of the local Aboriginal tribe who are custodians of the land where the contest has been run at Johanna.
What about that injured foot, you ask? (A hairline fracture, confirmed by the Association of Surfing Professionals.) How did he do it? The captain of the Geelong Cats, an Australian fooball team (AFL/Aussie rules), lives and surfs in Torquay. When he heard Slater had stuffed up his foot, he offered the medical facilities at the club to help out. But no injections. His foot was strapped, and a couple of pain-killers did the trick.
"It was easier to surf than walk on the sand. On the sand, my foot spreads out, but on my board, it doesn't move or spread as much so there wasn't as much pain," Slater said.
Fanning joked that there wasn't anything wrong with the foot, and it was all smoke and mirrors.
Burrow had his roll of two consecutive World Tour event wins broken but didn't seem too put out. Smith hung around and joked after his loss. Adriano de Souza was visibly bummed, while "The Spartan," Michel Bourez, just shrugged and stayed until the end of the contest to watch all the action.
Among the work and security crew, there was an almost audible sigh of relief as Slater was carried off the beach on a quad bike. It had been a long event with four sites and difficult "search" conditions for everyone.
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH FINAL RESULTS:
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 17.03
2. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.00
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.33 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.50
SF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.66 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 3.80
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.34 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.87
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.20 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.00
QF 3: Bobby Martinez (USA) 15.10 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.40
QF 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.10 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.00
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH REMAINING ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.84 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.83
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (USA) 13.67 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 8.77
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.20 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 7.00
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.50 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 8.00
CURRENT ASP WORLD TOUR TOP 10 (After Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach):
1. Taj Burrow (AUS) 16,500 pts.
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 13,750 pts.
3. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13,250 pts.
4. Bobby Martinez (USA) 13,000 pts.
5. Mick Fanning (AUS) 11,750 pts.
6. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10,500 pts.
6. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10,500 pts.
6. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10,500 pts.
9. Dane Reynolds (USA) 8,250 pts.
10. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 7,500 pts.
10. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7,500 pts.