For Whom The Bell Tolls – Rip Curl Pro begins

Who’s gonna ring the bell? That’s the question on a lot of folks’ minds as we enter in the latter part of this week. What bell? Well, that’s the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach trophy. An iconic symbol of surfing greatness, over the last forty-plus years the bell has been rung by the likes of Michael Peterson, Mark Richards, Tom Curren, Mark Occhilupo, Andy Irons, Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson, and Mick Fanning  — just to name a few. And it’s those last three that are all leading the pack going into the contest this year, with each guy having won the event recently: Fanning in 2012, Parkinson in 2011, and Slater in 2010.

You remember the Fantasy Surfer rules:  you get $50,000,000 to create a team of eight surfers and one alternate, with each of the surfers having varying dollar amounts assigned to them based on their current ranking. As this is event number two of the year, all rankings are based on the last contest. Without any further ado, here are my picks for the 2013 Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach:

Mick Fanning ($11,500,000): White Lighting is up first for me. We’re still in Australian waters, which means any one of the local boys could light up, but there are few guarantees as far as performance goes.  Fanning is one of those guarantees. Across the last five years, he hasn’t posted anything less than a fifth place. Beyond that, he finaled the last three years straight, and he got to ring the bell last year. I’m calling Fanning the man to beat for this contest.

Kelly Slater ($12,500,000): Seriously, any explanation of why Slater is on my team is bound to get redundant, but the reason always comes down to one simple thing — it’s Slater! Not only is he the winningest surfer in the history of the sport, but Slater is tied for most wins at Bells with Mark Richards at four a piece. Slater’s first win at Bells came way back in ’94, with his other three wins in close succession: ’06, ’08, and ’10. Then, Slater was on point at Snapper a few weeks ago, where he took first place. With the taste of victory still lingering, Slater is going to be hard to beat.

Owen Wright ($7,000,000): Wright has shown decently in this venue over the last several years, making it to the Quarters in ’11 and ‘12. The long, steep walls of this wave are really conducive to Wright’s hacking backside attack. And look for him to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder after losing in Round 2 by 0.02 points. Wright has the tools — remember his three final run with Slater a couple years back —  but he doesn’t seem to have the confidence in certain waves. This is not one of those waves.

Jordy Smith ($7,250,000): Just outside of Fanning, Slater, and Parkinson as favorites for this contest sits Smith. I feel like, since his injury at Teahupo’o in ’11 (where he broke his ribs in a heat, then re-surfed the heat with broken ribs, and still barely lost!), and his lackluster last year that a lot of folks have forgotten about Smith. I haven’t. He has two fifths and two thirds over the last four years at Bells. Not to mention that any heavy, peeling, right-hander is going to be this guy’s playground.

Sebastian Zietz ($5,000,000): Dumping 75 percent of my funds into my top four, my last four picks are just about getting a full eight-man roster. That’s not to take anything from Zietz, though. This guy just took the Triple Crown and put in a strong effort at Snapper a few weeks ago. Zietz was raised in waves just like those he’s bound to get at Bells, and that’s why I picked him. He’s got a strong line and he can take to the air whenever he wants. He’s my poor-man’s Julian Wilson.

Nat Young ($3,250,000): Young really impressed me in the contest a few weeks ago. He put it all out there, and that’s what every single guy has to do when the rank-and-file are all experts. Young bested both Josh Kerr and Ace Buchan last contest, and only ended up losing out by 0.32 to Mick Fanning.  While I don’t think he’ll win, I do think Young will show up to play.

Tiago Pires ($3,000,000): Pires was a little jewel for me at this price. Sure, he’s not burning up anyone’s lists, but he did place ninth in ’10 and ’11. Ninth places get 100-103 points on Fantasy Surfer, so that’s a good thing to shoot for. Pires is a solid surfer who just seems not to be able to get past the elite at this venue. But, as we all know, it’s about who gets the waves on the day, and when Pires gets the waves he doesn’t often waste them.

Jacob Wilcox ($1,500,000): Okay, this one certainly seems like just filling the roster with the bottom rung guys, but Wilcox is a little different. When a local kid gets a wildcard into an event like this, that guy has absolutely nothing to lose, and often will surprise people. Wilcox just beat Adriano de Souza in a heat during last week’s Margaret River Pro. If you can beat de Souza, then that means you can also beat anyone on tour. Will he surprise? Probably not. Can he surprise? Definitely.

Obviously missing from my team is Joel Parkinson. In order to have a team that wasn’t just four or five guys, I could only afford two of the top three guys, and that was Slater and Fanning. Don’t discount Parko, though. He’s rung the bell three times: ’04, ’09, and ’11. In my weird points system, he was five behind Fanning and one behind Slater, so he didn’t make my cut. Outside of Parko, Julian Wilson and Josh Kerr have really good shots, I think. Both have the power and an excellent aerial attack, which will keep them in the show until the latter half at least. Also, keep an eye out for Adriano de Souza, Taj Burrow, and Kai Otton to show at Bells.

This year, the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach will have a waiting period from March 27th  — May 7th. Also, keep in mind that Bells Beach time is fifteen hours ahead of the east coast (EST), meaning that their 8 a.m. call for Wednesday morning will be our 5 p.m. on Tuesday. With the forecast, I’d be surprised if they started the contest on Wednesday. The outlook shows for a declining swell through Thursday night, with a new swell starting on Friday and building through the weekend, and strong for the beginning of next week.

If you’re on Fantasy Surfer, look for me at “RCBacot.” Hit me up, and let’s compare notes.

www.fantasysurfer.com
www.live.ripcurl.com
www.aspworldtour.com

Bo Bacot grew up surfing up and down the Grand Strand.  For 25 years, he would sneak in a session whenever he could: before and after school, lunch breaks from work, weekends, weekdays, whenever.  Now that he’s moved back to Tennessee to further his education, Bo thinks about the ocean perhaps more than he ever did when it was in his backyard.  If asked, Bo will proudly proclaim that he is the best surfer living in Knoxville, TN.

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