YESTERDAY marked the beginning of the 50th anniversary of competition surfing at Bells Beach as Round 1 of the 2011 Rip Curl Pro Bells underway in clean four-to-six foot (1.5- to 2-metre) surf.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, the second stop on the 2011 ASP World Title season, enjoyed consistent surf throughout the day as the world's best surfers unleashed a barrage of high-performance ripping on the classic canvas that is Bells Beach.
Joel Parkinson, the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach champion, put in a sensational performance, electing to sit up at Rincon to secure the day's highest scores.
Parkinson locked in the highest wave score and the highest heat score of the opening day of competition scoring 17.74 (out of a possible 20.00) to advance directly through to Round 3 of competition.
“I fell off twice on the bowl,” Parkinson said.
“It was really hard to ride. Then CJ (Hobgood) went across to Rincon and got a score, so we followed him over and it worked out for me.
“It's great to get that opening-heat win, especially at Bells. You never know what conditions you're going to get in a heat, so to be able to skip round two and maybe get a day off is a huge advantage.”
Kelly Slater, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion and defending event winner, was clinical in his attack in his Round 1 heat. Slater had his fellow competitors Adam Robertson and Kai Otton on the ropes only minutes into the heat, scoring an impressive 16.00 on his opening two rides.
“I don't free surf out at Bells a whole lot,” Slater said.
“When the waves are good the comp is on and outside of that it's pretty crowded. So I'm still learning with each heat out there still, surfing against a guy like Robbo (Adam Robertson) you've got to watch where he's sitting, how far our and how deep.”
Mick Fanning, currently equal 13th in the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title, went into the competition with renewed vigour after a shock early exit at the last event on the Gold Coast.
The past two-time ASP World Champion came out and dominated his Round 1 battle over Tiago and Gabriel Medina .
“I'm stoked to get a good start,” Fanning said.
“It's been 10 years since I won here as a wildcard; I got close last year but Kelly Slater got me in the final. You want to win every event, but being the 50th anniversary and so much history at this event, it's like the Wimbledon of surfing, it's a hard one to win but it's the one everyone wants.”
Brazil's Alejo Muniz , 21, led yesterday's rookie charge, continuing his sensational run and dispatching of fellow Brazilian Ranoi Monterio, and Australian Adrian Buchan in the morning's opening round heat.
“It's so good out there,” Muniz said.
“This is my first time surfing at Bells and it's the most amazing place.
“It's got perfect rights, and it's the kind of wave that I love to surf. It's the best place ever, best waves, best weather and I love surfing in wetsuits.
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