“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. When it hits Bells Beach, it will turn into the biggest surf this planet has ever seen, and I will be there.”
Sound familiar? You bet it does because that was how Bodhi described the 50-year storm in Point Break, a movie that you have seen at least one million times. It’s the storm that (apparently) sent Bodhi to his watery grave, but like the man said, “it’s not tragic to die doing what you love.” But did you know that there’s a “Bells Beach 50-Year-Storm Invitational?”
You probably didn’t because it’s very new. So new, in fact, that it hasn’t actually been run yet. In 2017, the event kicked off, but since it uses the same kind of format that the Eddie uses, it’s only going to run when the waves get big enough. Oh, and the event is for a very good cause, as well: to raise awareness for mental health. “The Bells Beach 50-Year Storm Invitational will see local legend Shaun Brooks honored as a field of family, friends, local surfing royalty and big-wave chargers paddle out for a one-day invitational contest at Bells,” the press release reads. “Shaun, a former World Junior and Victorian Open champion, took his own life in 2012 after a long battle with mental illness.”
The Bells Beach 50-Year Storm Invitational waits on those giant storms that make Australian winters so wonderful. The waiting period for the one-day event closed at the end of August, but it came very close to getting the green light. “It pumped! And we almost went,” said Carlo Lowden for the event organizers. “However, it just wasn’t quite big enough to run in the end. This event is to honor the legacy of Shaun and we need the waves to be consistently over 12 foot for it to run. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t big enough. Geez, everyone got some amazing waves that day, though.” Bells Beach at size is a formidable wave. “Bells at 12 foot is a serious wave,” said Troy Brooks, Shaun’s younger brother. “The wave has so much power at that size that it’ll be a big test for the guys out there. They’ll need some big boards and some big tickers.”
The format has another interesting little quirk, too: invitees are voted in. “The big change from last year’s event is that the field has grown from 18 surfers to 30, with 25 of these places in the field voted on by the public,” the presser explained. “The other five wildcards will be decided by the Brooks family and the 50-Year Storm Committee.”
The Torquay surfing community has put their weight behind the event, donating $10,000 to charities that benefit the local community. The 50-Year Storm Invitation is going to be back in 2019, and you can bet we’ll be watching.