“You were like a wounded animal, out there. Willsy the wounded animal.” Andy Irons is sitting on his car, hanging with Dane Reynolds, soaking up the sun and the Bells vibes. He’s in a good mood, as he usually is, and he’s not alone. Willsy had just dusted Jordy Smith in a tight heat and along with a victory over the much hyped rookie, he had scored a fin to the head and nasty gash. “Mate, it’s okay, just a little cut,” he told me. “I was more worried about my surfing, Until that last wave I just had that feeling that I was always a half a second out, on every turn, just not quite right.”
And seeing that Willsy knows Bells and surfs Bells as good anyone, it showed the generally trickiness of the conditions. A light south easterly onshore had peaked and junked the left over four feet swell, making for wedgy Bowl and it was pretty hard to work out which waves were going to be the good ones.
Mind you Dane Reynolds, seemed to have it worked out coming out and blazing a 9.33 and a 9.77 straight off the bat, in a such a display of dominance it was almost some type of sick joke. He then backed it up with a massive air reverse on another, which had the huge crowds roaring their sun, and beer soaked approval. The big powerful Bells walls offer him a fair canvas and, once again, he lived up to the hype. No one will want him in the next round, unless of course you are betting man. Mind you, with those two waves, his odds just shortened a whole heap.
His performance was in stark contrast to Bruce Irons, who failed again after scoring a 17th at the Quiksilver Pro, going down to best mate and travelling partner Freddie Pattachia. “Oh man, he’ll hate losing to Fred,” said Andy. “He’ll lose it, he’ll come in saying he’s gonna quit the tour, the works.” Andy was kidding, but you sure hope Bruce hangs in there, although it must be heavy being that good a surfer and not winning heats. It does my head in, so I can’t imagine what it’s doing to his.
By the afternoon the organizers had finished round 2 and started to work their way through Round 3 of the women’s. The crowd stayed on, eating pies and drinking beer and generally being very Australian. An ACDC tribute band was playing loud and fast at the contest site and the general mix of sun and surf and performing freaks like Dane Reynolds make it a pretty intoxicating environment, in more ways than one. Event forecaster Ben Matson predicts an further drop in the swell tomorrow and quite possibly a lay day. Those with the time and inclination and motivation will be bombing it down the coast to the clean, remote beach breaks of Johanna, while others will be nursing themselves through another Bells hangover. A new four or five feet swell is being predicted for Monday/Tuesday when things should kick off again. You’d think a winner might have to come from Slater, Fanning, Parko, Taj or Andy, but as Dane Reynolds showed today, anything is possible at Bells. Stick around, this place is starting to warm up.
Best surfer Dane Reynolds. 18.73 out of 20 and he looked liked owned the place. And he was spotted on the dancefloor the night before.
Best carve One Roy Powers smooth powerful arc h showed what is all good about his surfing.
Best quote “Have you seen his head? It’s massive. I have to put an extra 1/4 inch through the nose to carry it.” – Unnamed Aussie shaper talking about an unnamed Brazilian surfer. Best air Dane Reynolds, again, by about five feet.
Best/worst haircut Freddy P’s brown racing stripe.
Best comeback Timmy Reyes who won his heat despite suffering a horrendous slice to his ankle bone at Snapper a couple of weeks ago.