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Surfing Bells Beach
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Surfing Bells Beach

Wave Tribe

I had just finished four days of Unleash the Power Within and I was ready to surf.

Published by Wave Tribe

I flew to Sydney before the event, where I lost two more days flying over the international date line. I was pushing a week in drydock and ready to get wet.

I opened Surfline and checked the forecast for Sydney. 1-2 foot. Pass.

I looked at Bali, it said 8-10 foot. Now I was getting excited.

I went to the UPW event with my bro from Melbourne and he was urging me to come with him to Victoria—a state I had not yet visited in Australia. I scratched my head, isn't Bells Beach near there?

I have been obsessed with surfing the best waves on the planet for most of my adult life.

Some would say I have an addiction, others would say I am blessed. I have been to Bali several times and venturing somewhere new was appealing.

I opened Google and typed in Bells Beach and learned that it was located an hour from Melbourne. Then I learned something else; the south swell hitting Bali was also hitting Bells Beach. They both have the same swell window from the south, my bell was ringing.

I landed in Melbourne and took a day to break it to my friend that I was leaving him for Torquay. "Can I borrow your car?," I nonchalantly asked while handing him a cold beer.

The next day I left for Torquay in my bros VW Polo. It took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to drive on the wrong side of both the car and the road. Right turns are tricky, but shifting with my left hand was surprisingly easy.

Torquay is a beautiful small coastal town and it is the best place to hang your hat for a few nights while surfing Bells Beach. I grabbed an awesome place from Airbnb.com and made the ten-minute drive to Bells Beach each morning after I checked the tides and wind. However, I needed some equipment.

Tomo 5'10 - 34 L

Seeing a surf break for the first time is magical. Nothing can replace the overwhelming joy you feel when you set your own eyes on a wave that you have studied hundreds of times on the internet or in surf mags.

— Derek Dodds, Wave Tribe Founder

First I had to find a wetsuit.

I wasn't planning on surfing in Victoria so I was not geared up for the event. There are a few rental places in town but I needed a new suit anyway so I rocked up to the Rip Curl store and threw down some ozzy cash for a new Flash Bomb. Well spent money for the frigid temperatures I was about to experience.

Suit in hand, I now needed a surfboard. Torquay is the surfing capital of Victoria, so finding a surfboard is not an issue. I went into the Quicksilver store, called Boardriders, and asked for a demo board. After 5 rejections, I was offered a brand new Tomo and almost jumped out of my skin.

There is a trend I have noticed over the past year. Shapers are experimenting with alternative shapes and combining those designs with classic performance characteristics. The surfboard I was handed was the perfect synergistic expression of that trend. Pulling into 12 foot Bells Beach a few days later, I confirmed my assumptions.

I threw the wetsuit and board in the car and beelined to surf Torquay before the sky went dark. I had to get in the water. Torquay is a fun break, nothing like Bells, but worth a paddle for sure. There is a fun right off the point and a left down the beach. I caught some fun waves out there and fiddled with my footing on the new Tomo.

Torquay is cold. That night I made a fire in my airbnb and the wind whipped through the window cracks and teased me all night. I woke in the morning and made another fire before heading to Bells Beach.

Seeing a surf break for the first time is magical. Nothing can replace the overwhelming joy you feel when you set your own eyes on a wave that you have studied hundreds of times on the internet or in surf mags.

I drove to Bells Beach with the heater blazing; VW's always have great heaters. Must be those cold German winters.

Bells Beach is inside a national park, how cool is that? I pulled up and it was raining. I didn't care. I looked over the rail and what I saw was beautiful. Here is the picture I took of that moment.

Bells Beach Australia

Bells Beach, Australia

It was macking—just like the Bali forecast predicted.

Bells Beach likes a lower tide on a big swell, low going high is what I was told by the Tomo shepherd at Boardriders. It was solid advice.

I suited up and walked down to the beach. I had no idea where to paddle in.

It's always an awkward moment; do I ask a local and sound like a total kook? Not quite my style. I waited until a local walked by and I casually followed him down the beach. The funny part was that I later talked to that guy in the lineup and found out he had just moved to the area. Luckily, he had a local friend who had already schooled him on Bells' entry etiquette.

There are two ways in at Bells Beach. You can paddle in from the far side of the break and make your way to the shoulder. Then work your way to the main takeoff zone. The guy I followed was doing it the other way.

You walk past the main takeoff area and meander over some rocks and paddle into the impact zone and take position. More my style. I followed the right guy.

Bells Beach Australia

Bells Beach

Bells Beach is an amazing wave. Powerful. Deep. Cold.

It reminds me of big Blacks back in California on a frigid winter day. I got held under a few times. One of the hold-downs was the crawl-leash-to-surface kind. Not cool. But well worth every no breath.

The wave is fast at the top and opens up into a forgiving section down the line. It throws again on the inside and pounds the shore with virility. It's a great wave. My kind of wave.

The area surrounding Bells Beach is magical. There are several hikes in the area. I hear one can walk along the cliffs for hours. I never made it on those walks, I was too mesmerized by the undulation of joy I had discovered at the footsteps of those trails.

I met a local in the parking lot after my first session. He was smiling as much as I was. Australians are nice people. He turned to me and said, "This has been the best week all year." I nodded and was grateful for my decision to surf in Victoria. Try it sometime.

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