Listen up kid, you wanna learn something about Oz’s first contest zone? Mick Fanning’s major sponsor, Rip Curl, was founded in Torquay and is still based there. The year before he rolled onto tour, he rang the bell as a wildcard, then did it again 11 years later (last year!). He was also in the final in 2010 and 2011. Reckon he knows a thing or two about the place? Stab lit up the airwaves with Mick to find out how to surf the wave and who you don’t wanna draw out there.
Photos by ASP/Kirstin
Stab: Where else in the world do Bells boards work?
Mick: Well, I ride the same boards as I’d ride at home on the Gold Coast. If it works at home, it works anywhere. In the past I’ve tried different tails and little things, but I always end up on the same thing as I’d ride at home. It’s always worked, so why change it?
Rookies: Sea Bass, Micro, Nat Young and Filipe Toledo. Who’s gonna shine? Nat, having grown up at Steamer Lane, has a strong backhand. Then Sea Bass has massive turns, we all saw that at Haleiwa last year. He’ll be great out there. Micro’s got a super solid backhand on him too, even though he’s only a little fella, he can hold his rail for a long time.
Which of the young guys has turned himself into a Bells surfer? John John was really impressive last year. Jeremy surfed it well, too. And Jordy, as soon as he got on tour he was one of the best guys out at Bells. There hasn’t been a major standout recently, other than John John and Jordy. Last year, John John was doing big carves all the way from top to bottom, which you get from growing up surfing a place like Sunset or Haleiwa.
Who would you least like to draw outta Jordy or Joel? With Joel’s record here over the last 10 years, he’s been the most lethal guy. So, I’d say Joel.
Is it one of the places where you’re advantaged over Kelly? I wouldn’t say advantage, you don’t ever get an advantage over that guy. The years that he’s gone on about the wave, he’s ended up winning. He’s been coming here for so long he definitely knows how to surf the wave. He’s probably just telling people he doesn’t like it, but he surfs it really well.
What’s the toughest turn out there? I was really surprised everyone was doing airs last year, actually. I think the hardest thing about Bells is that bouncy inside bit. You’ve gotta leave your decision about your last turn right ’til the very last second. If you can do a good turn on that inside section, (like Yadin Nicol’s air reverse last year), you’re doing something right.
What’s the best turn to do out there? When you take off on a six-footer and you can just see the wall start going, and you take the high line and you get set up for your bottom turn, and you just have this perfect canvas and go, “Shit, what can I do here?” The excitement and anticipation of what you can do on a wave is the best feeling you get out there. – Elliot Struck
THINK YOU KNOW WHO WILL WIN BELL'S? THEN ENTER ML'S FANTASY SURFER COMP <HERE>