Nick Carroll: Oh My God, I Forgot About Point Break

25 Apr 2019 3 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

Gabriel Medina confronts Owen Wright on the sands at Bells before Round 3 earlier today.

Gabriel Medina confronts Owen Wright on the sands at Bells before Round 3 earlier today.

COASTALWATCH | NICK CARROLL

How many 50 year storms have there been?

The vibe at Bells in the past couple of days hasn’t been anywhere near as spun as you’d expect, given the forecast.

Maybe nobody was quite ready to believe that after one of the least eventful weeks in this contest’s 58-year-old history, something dark really was approaching from the deep Southern Ocean. Maybe this is the pro attitude in 2019 – Don’t Get Rattled. Even by 50 knots of wind pointing at you like a thousand-mile gun barrel.

Whatever it was, every professional surfer I’ve come across since driving into Torquay a couple of days ago has seemed very off-hand about the situation. “Oh, ahh yeah, I have a 6’3”,” and so forth. The most psyched has been Wade Carmichael, and being Wade, it’s a pretty laidback sort of psyched. “It’s just so good knowing we’ll be surfing again,” he said between mini sets at Rincon yesterday arvo. “Everywhere else has been pumping!”

Well that just got dropped like a hot pie this morning, when the WSL went PR Ham. “50 Year Storm Beginning To Show At Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach”! headed the PR. “The 50 Year Storm Is Coming”!

Oh shit! The 50 year storm!

And I realised that perhaps like the WSL, I’d forgotten that unforgettable super cheese moment, a moment engraved in both Hollywood and Bells Beach history: the suicide sequence in Point Break.

Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten it too.

It’s when Bohdi (Patrick Swayze) has disappeared off Johnny Utah’s (Keanu Reeves) radar. Nobody knows where he is, the daredevil bank robbing, surf starring, parachute jumping rebel!

Then Johnny hears word of the storm. A 50 YEAR STORM. Approaching BELLS BEACH.

Johnny intuits this will be where Bodhi will be, because Bohdi can’t resist a thrill.

So Johnny dashes off, first to a location in Oregon pretending to be Bells, then to Waimea Bay, where Bay legend Darrick Doerner does the showdown’s amazing stunt wipeout on a solid 18-foot-plus wave, and Bohdi is gone…forever. Or …is he?

I just don’t know if you want to call that kind of Karma down on a major professional surfing contest. Not within a week of a lifesaving tragedy just down the coast.

This swell is no stunt. It’s coming off a powerful wind fetch currently about 800 nm south of Ceduna and moving almost directly toward the opening to Bass Strait. The winds inside that fetch are somewhere between 40 and 55 knots and will travel with the swell as it’s made, driving a lot of extra energy into it. By early Friday the fetch will be right underneath the western opening of the Strait. 

The swell has not begun to show at Bells Beach. Right now there’s a couple of playful and not very muscly swells striking the Bells and Winki reefs, coming off some winds ahead of the big storm. It bears no relation to what will hit these reefs tomorrow. Here’s our call on Friday and Saturday:

Friday: will start out inconsistent and maybe 6’ and a bit bigger on sets, then build dramatically into the early afternoon to a peak of 10-12’+, very consistent and moving very fast and powerful. Winds offshore to side-offshore westerly early, then turning a touch WSW later in the morning, making the surface conditions a bit hacked. Tide is low-ish around 10am, rising to high-ish around 4.30pm, which might affect how the swell is refracted onto the reefs as it comes in. So a changeable day which will increase in severity and intensity as it goes.

Saturday: much cleaner, with WNW winds maybe turning real W through the morning. Solid remnant swell from a more south angle which might make Bells a bit better quality than on Friday too. Expect surf in the 4-6’+ range, maybe a bit bigger at times, but declining through the day.

To me this feels like the true beginning of the CT year, the first real physical and mental test for these surfers, who’ve so far barely ridden a wave over three feet in anger. 


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