The Rip Curl Pro returns to Bells Beach next week for another action packed Easter weekend. Over the next few days the best surfers in the world will descend on Torquay for the 55th running of the longest running surfing contest in the world. Once again anticipation will be high that Bells will turn it on and produce 20 foot plus surf as it did in 1965 and 1981.
Apart from the contest Bells also has a history of putting on some crazy parties and music events. Silverchair played in the Bells carpark once which was fantastic until the native vegetation started getting trashed by over enthusiastic fans.
The Offshore Music Festival ran for a number of years in the late 1990s on a dusty paddock nearby. Regurgitator, Primus, Pennywise and the Rollins Band were just a few of the groups to perform in front of ten thousand keen surfers and their mates.1984 was a massive year with Australian Band announced as one of the official sponsors of the event. It was the first time a band had sponsored a surfing event in the world (and possibly the first time any band had sponsored a major sporting event).
The surf didn’t really co-operate that year as Cheyne Horan won the contest riding a tear drop McCoy surfboard with a Ben Lexcen designed fin. Aussie Crawl got to play at the presentation night and shoot a film clip for their hit song The Boys Light Up while they were in town (you can occasionally catch it late at night on Rage). It was a pretty rock and roll weekend that year!
This years’ event promises plenty of action. After a tough year in 2015 getting attacked by a shark and losing the world title Mick Fanning has designated the Rip Curl pro as one of the few events he will contest this year. Mick has won Bells three times so another victory would have him tied with four times Bells winner the great Mark Richards. Kelly Slater will be back again to contest an event he has also won three times. Kelly Slater has just turned 44. Will he get to ring the Bell one more time?
The Women’s Event has just as much interest. Aussie surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has won twice at Bells and will be keen to add to the trophy cabinet. Stephanie Gilmore has won Bells three times and will be keen to get another win on the board and aim for a seventh world women’s surfing title.
It’s going to be an action packed couple of weeks. If the surf is great head down to Bells and check out all the action. If the surf is terrible head to the local golf courses where you might find a few of the pro surfers whacking little white balls around the course in anger. Either way it’s always fun when the pro surfers hit town!
Written by John Foss