Senior Editor

The Inertia

If he were real, Bodhi would be stoked out of his mind right about now, ready to jump out of a plane wearing shop-teacher glasses and a loose tank top. Because the 50-year storm (or something like that) is about to hit Bells Beach, which has been so painfully minuscule of late the Rip Curl Pro has been relegated to Winkipop since the contest window opened a week ago.

But seriously, the forecast is definitely on the upswing. So Utah, give me two: as in double overhead on Friday, with head-high surf by Thursday growing through the end of the week where we could see waves four to five times overhead? Dare we say 20 feet by Friday night, according to Surfline forecaster Kevin Wallis? What? The surf will slowly – and it looks like very slowly – taper off through the weekend but Kieren Perrow is as fired up as  Utah on his first wave (as are WSL bean counters hoping to have eyes on the webcast). After Mother Nature’s lull, the event will see contestable surf through the waiting period.


I sent out a few texts to get a read on the ground in Victoria this morning . “My biggest board’s a 5’11” so I’ll have to pick up something bigger ASAP,” wrote Sage Erickson, who has enjoyed a sustained period of in-tune surfing during the Australian leg of the tour as she looks to re-qualify for 2020 (she’s currently sitting in fifth and in the Round of 16 at Bells where she’ll face Lakey Peterson).

Conner Coffin, who’ll meet Soli Bailey in Heat 3, packed enough heat. “Super fired up that there will finally be some surf,” he said. “Looks solid, which is always exciting. I brought down a new 6’3″ step up I’ve been working on with Channel Islands that I would love to ride at big Bells. Hopefully it’s enough board.”

So is it a twice-a-century storm? I don’t know. And no one else is calling it that either. But maybe they should as it might be the biggest Bells in recent memory, a break that can definitely hold big surf. Wednesday is looking small again but Thursday it should start to fill in. “People are talking about ’81 and how big it was that year and the incredible waves,” said Perrow, “it’s got this hype about it, this sort of excitement built up to a swell that we haven’t seen in a long time and everyone is really pumped.” Round 3 of the men starts with a goodie as Julian Wilson and Kelly Slater strap on the leashes in Heat 1 for what we all hope is a rowdy one.


Maybe Bodhi’s right and “everything moves in cycles. Twice a century the ocean lets us know just how small we really are. A winter storm comes out of Antarctica, tearing up the Pacific, and it sends a huge swell north 2,000 miles. And when it hits Bells Beach, it will turn into the biggest surf this planet has ever seen.” And the WSL will be there.

The show is off for today but check for live updates, here. 


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