John John got his 1st Bell and showed us he was back after his injury last year. He beat a very inform Toledo in the final in pumping 8-10ft waves on the Bells Bowl. It wasn't perfect, due to the mixed swell direction, but the big walls allowed for a big drawn out bottom turns, long arching cutbacks and, if you were brave, the end section could be the place to lay down a big final high scoring manoeuvre.
The previous day saw massive but unruly, messy and challenging conditions for the last heats of the Round of 32 and Round of 16. A bigger, thicker heavier board was needed to link turns together and patience, wave choice and bravery also played a big part.
The finals day saw clean, offshore but still pretty big conditions and every quarter final heat was a goofy Vs Regular affair. Ryan Callinan carried on his impressive form against Slater in the 1st heat but to be honest Slater didn't really turn up. You'd expect the 11 time World Champion to revel in these kind of conditions and Like Pottz said, you kinda wanted to see him on a bigger board to lay down his trademark rail turns. But he didn't, he didn't even score over a 3.5... but not to take anything from Callinan who, especially on his back hand, rips in all conditions deservedly took the heat.
Toledo Took on another Goofy footer and wildcard Jacob Wilcox in the 2nd quarter. Toledo's smooth combination of bottom turns, carves and a clean finish earned him the highest scoring wave of the heat along with a good back up to take out the wildcard.
The biggest heat of the event so far saw John John take on Medina in the 3rd quarter and they did not disappoint. They were trading blows for the entire heat laying down powerful turns but John John just seemed to have the edge and under priority he linked big open carves with explosive and powerful turns on the end section to claim the win and a place in the semis.
Now the 4th quarter final heat between Jordy Smith Italo Ferreira ended very controversially. I know its what the WSL rule book states about interference calls and a competitor hindering the scoring potential of the other surfer on a wave but long story short, Italo took off out the back, went around Jordy who was paddling diagonally up the face who then caught the whitewater and got to his feet after Italo had jumped off the back of the wave. Yes, Italo went passed Jordy and didn't straighten out but Jordy had both hands on the board while laying down in the white water and Italo's tracks didn't hinder his scoring potential (Jordy got a 7.9). Jordy was winning the heat but Italo came back with the highest score of the heat, an 8.4 and then got a 7 on his last wave before coming in, (which would've won the heat) clearly upset with the decision. Italo has been really consistent recently and maybe he should have straightened out but without actually causing any interference or hindering the scoring potential it did put a slightly darker cloud over the event. Maybe the rules have to be adjusted a bit in the future, but its what it is and for every decision that goes against you, sometimes they might go in your favour.
The 1st semi final saw Toledo take on Ryan Callinan and it was close... Callinan got the highest scoring wave of the heat but Toledo’s consistency and fluid style helped him get a solid back up score in the big rolling rights to get a place in the final.
John John was up against Jordy Smith in the 2nd Semi and it was a close call between 2 of the most consistent surfers in the contest. They were both linking on rail carves on the big Bells bowl and finishing their waves with powerful closing manoeuvres. Florence needed a big score in the closing stages of the heat and ended with a 9.43 on a big set wave to go up against Toledo in the final.
Toledo wanted pay back for the previous heat that he met John John when Florence took the win in a closely fought round 4 heat on the Goldy. Both surfers throughout the Bells event seemed to be the most stylish when linking their turns together with precision and ending their waves consistently. We all know how powerful John John can be but Toledo has been making a name for himself as a quietly powerful surfer when the waves get bigger so the Bells final was going to be close. And it was, both surfers finding good scoring waves but a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes didn’t allow the scores to go into the excellent range but they both put together some amazing turns so maybe the judges were being a little too critical!? In the end John John took the win but Toledo came pretty close with his final wave. John John was able to ring his 1st Bell and show us all he was back on top. It also puts him In the yellow jersey for the upcoming event, the Corona Bali Protected on the 13th of May. Things are starting to get interesting...
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