Stab Magazine | Occy Takes Down Curren, And Bells' Biggest Day (In Decades?) Is Coming

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Occy Takes Down Curren, And Bells’ Biggest Day (In Decades?) Is Coming

Day 3 of the Rip Curl Pro saw Tom Curren riding a skimboard and Julian falling to the GOAT. 

news // Apr 26, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today marked the first time on the 2019 Championship Tour when the surfers competed at their primary event location.

Bells was mid-sized and beautiful this morning, if slightly slow, but ain’t that just the way of long-period swells and pointbreaks?

Lakey Peterson and Sage Erickson were first heat in the water at quarter-past eight, leaving time for an Anzac Day memorial at first light.

Anzac Day, for our American readers, is Australia and New Zealand’s version of Veteran’s Day. They take the holiday quite seriously, which equates to a lovely morning service, the day off work, and typically beers by noon.

That, combined with the fact that Bells had its best conditions of the waiting period, meant that three-quarters of Victorians were in attendance today. According to the folks at the entrance, the comp site reached its max capacity around midday, with fans crowding every inch of the cliff and a solid portion of the beach. The parking lot was also full, with late-comers being forced to park on top of the hill that overlooks the field above Bells. For those who haven’t been, that’s fucking faaaar. A good four kay walk to the cliffs, minimum.

Or you can be a dickhead like me and slip past the traffic control, duck through an exit lane, and grab a spot at the front of the park.

After shaving a half hour off my commute, I came over the cliff to see Steph Gilmore hammering a Bells bowl – one big carve, a check into the wash, and drop-wallet finish (you can see it on @stab’s IG stories). Then I looked left and saw the masses feasting on Winki’s low-tide delights.

One anonymous scrub took off on the same swell line that Steph had dissected at the Bowl; he proceeded to link off-balance turns between Winki’s fast-running sections – which offered shades of J-Bay – before disappearing behind the rock-face.

I’ve been in Australia for just under a month now, and these were the best waves I’d seen. That one morning at Dbah (where the WSL didn’t run) was of similar quality, but something about Winki’s extended, offshore lines made it all too enticing.

So I said screw it – professional surfing won’t entirely collapse if I miss a few damn heats – and ran back to the car for my gear. 

Two hours later I ascended the Winki stair set, dripping wet and unspeakably satisfied, but also stressed that I’d missed something important in the event. After a quick scroll through the feed, it was revealed that Slater had defeated Julian Wilson (up the GOAT!) with a puny heat total, and Michael Rodrigues/Peterson Crisanto were currently in the water.


Best of all, upon returning to the Bells parking lot, I ran into a flower pot of a man pulling a hot blue wetty over his golden dreds.


Turns out I was just in time for the Heritage Heat, featuring the Mark “The Raging Bull” Occhilupo and Tom “Magic Mushy” Curren, who looked to be riding some skimboard-fungus blend in his freesurfs.

In the big heat, Oc opted for a 6’3 JS with a sparkling-white wax job. Curren selected a stock Black Beauty, which also appeared never to have been ridden. After Curren’s first three waves, of which Slater said “it looks like Tom is trying to remember how to ride a ‘normal’ board,” he returned to shore and swapped the Black Beauty for his beloved 5’4 mushy slider, which we’re calling the Skim-Biscuit.

But even a board swap couldn’t see Curren past the Bull. Despite his dreds, Occy looked 15 kilos lighter than the last time he and Curren crossed lycras, back at J-Bay in 2014.

Today Occy was fast off the bottom and fierce off the top, driving through the Bowl’s tight upper pocket and drifting the fins on one highlight occasion. The judges gave Oc a 7.87 for the effort, which he backed up with a 6.5 and won hand-over-fist against Curren, who was having more fun pulling into shorey tubes than actually competing.

“It felt soooo good,” Occy said after the heat, when I asked him about defeating Curren. The silly grin on his face said it all. Occy was back. 

IMG 3772062CFCCF 1

See our IG stories for a whole lot more of the Oc.

The tide went fatter than a cat so we moved to Winki, which was also bloated but had some form through the inside corner.

Conner Coffin came up against rookie Soli Bailey, which must have been a tough heat to judge because of how damn similarly they surf. The judges saw a bigger spread than I did, putting the American a point-and-a-half higher than the Aboriginal CTer.

Next was RyCal squeaking past Michel Bourez, whose painful decision-making cost him what should have been a simple victory. That’s no disrespect to Ryan, but rather an acknowledgment of the fact that Michel can get mid-sixes for three cutbacks on a chest-high wave. And that’s all he needed to win.

I watched Filipe and Caio from up on the Winkipop hill, which would have offered an amazing vantage point had I been born of a respectable height. As it were, I was left peeking over low shoulders and under high knees, which made watching the heat a sport in and of itself. After finally securing an acceptable line of vision, I was able to catch Filipe’s fourth wave, a 6.6, which didn’t even enter his top two scores.

The birds-eye perspective made it look like a 9.

To be fair, I can’t even remember the maneuvers Filipe performed on this wave – all I know is that he linked turn after turn on an impossible-looking line. From 100 meters above, the swell Filipe caught was a stretched-out, junky mess. Even with the infinite capacity of my mind-surfing skills, I couldn’t see a line to make the wave, let alone surf it to a score. But Filipe did.

I’ve yet to see this ride on video, so maybe I’m off my head, but from memory, it was one of the most impressively read, and surfed, waves I’ve ever seen. Filipe went on to win, but not without a little scare from Mr. Ibelli.

Toledo F7355BellsDunbar19 

The final three heats were upsets of the highest order, with Mikey Wright making a shocking positioning error against Seth Moniz (who had a ripper of an 8); Kolohe Andino falling on a crucial lip-line float against wildcard Jacob Wilcox (who made great use of the new seeding system and did the best bottom turn of the event thus far); and Wade Carmichael looking rather flat against the light-footed Deivid Silva (whose float-snaps defy gravity).

And that was it.

Tomorrow we’ll see the swell of the week, half-century, whatever, make its impact on the Bowl. Nobody’s sure what to expect, nor how many heats will be surfed. Insider sources say that the WSL will try to finish Men’s Round of 32 in the morning, but it remains touch and go.

Somehow we doubt it’ll actually be that big.

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Round 3 Results: 
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 15.50 DEF. Sage Erickson (USA) 9.00 
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 11.50 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.44 
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.50 DEF. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 11.20 
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 9.17 DEF. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 8.50 
Heat 5: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.13 DEF. Kobie Enright (AUS) 10.76 
Heat 6: Malia Manuel (HAW) 11.04 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.83 
Heat 7: Caroline Marks (USA) 7.67 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 5.20 
Heat 8: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 9.63 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 8.87

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Coco Ho (HAW) 
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Malia Manuel (HAW) 
Heat 4: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRI)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 3 (H1-8) Results: 
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.84 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 7.20  
Heat 2: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 11.97 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 11.67  
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) 13.43 DEF. Soli Bailey (AUS) 11.83  
Heat 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.50 DEF. Michel Bourez (FRA) 10.76  
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.50 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 13.07  
Heat 6: Seth Moniz (HAW) 14.00 DEF. Mikey Wright (AUS) 8.50  
Heat 7: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 13.24 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.20 
Heat 8: Deivid Silva (BRA) 13.17 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 11.87

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Remaining Men’s Round 3 (H8-16) Matchups: 
Heat 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Reef Heazlewood (AUS)  
Heat 10: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)  
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)  
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)  
Heat 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)  
Heat 14: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)  
Heat 15: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)  
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round 4 Matchups: 
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Peterson Crisanto (BRA)  
Heat 2: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)  
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)  
Heat 4: Jacob Willcox (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 5: TBD Following Conclusion of MR3
Heat 6: TBD Following Conclusion of MR3
Heat 7: TBD Following Conclusion of MR3
Heat 8: TBD Following Conclusion of MR3 


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