UPDATED Surf Forecast & Breakdown: 2016 Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach

21 Mar 2016 4

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

COASTALWATCH | Event Forecast

Half a century of huge swells, competitive milestones and immoderate partying has seen Bells Beach become one of Australia's signature surf spots.

Since it was first surfed in the late ‘40s, this right-hand reef on Victoria's Surf Coast has become a highlight on the world championship tour with the Rip Curl Pro being recognised as one surfing's most coveted prizes. 

Located 100km south-west of Melbourne, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is the longest running professional surfing event and in 2016 celebrates it's 55th year. The event is the second stop for both the men's and women's world championship tour with the waiting period window between 24th March and 5th April 2016. 

SEE ALSO: EASTER WEEKEND NATIONAL SURF FORECAST

THE FORECAST BREAKDOWN

By Coastalwatch Chief Surf Forecaster Ben Macartney
Updated Wednesday 23rd March, 4PM
For the full Surf Coast forecast click here.

ABOUT BELLS BEACH

Facing southeast, Bells is exposed to powerful, long-period Southern Ocean swell, yet is offshore in the north-westerlies often associated with these weather systems. Combined with a defined reef and deep water bay, Bells has gained a reputation as one of the country’s big-wave spots. While there have been plenty of epic years in the history of the event, sometimes the wind and/or waves don't co-operating but Victoria’s varied coastline offers plenty of backup options for quality surf.

VIEW THE LIVE JAN JUC - WINKI SURF CAM 

Wave Type: Right reef/point break
Best Swell Direction: S
Best Swell Size: 4-10 ft
Best Wind Direction: N, NW
Best Tide: High for Rincon, low for The Bowl.

Bells has two significant breaks:

RINCON works best when the tide is really high in smaller swell, around 2 to 4 feet. Out of the two, Rincon is the least preferred option at Bells. On a bigger swell from the right direction, you can take off at the Rincon peak and get a few big power carves off before hopefully flying into The Bowl, which is really what has made Bells so famous.

THE BOWL works from about 3 feet all the way up to 15 and possibly bigger, but the optimum conditions are 4 to 10 feet. When it’s on, there are few waves on the planet that can test your wave-reading and rail surfing like the Bowl, and the best surfers even manage to find pretty elusive Bells barrels.

The Bells magic, Photo by Judith Scanlon

The Bells magic, Photo by Judith Scanlon

THE BACKUP LOCATIONS

Winkipop - View live surf cam

Wave Type: Right reef/point break
Best Swell Direction: SW
Best Swell Size: 2-10 feet
Best Wind Direction: N, NW
Best Tide: Low to Mid

Winkipop is a definite favourite of most of the World Tour surfers today. It’s a really fast, down-the-line wave that on its best days can resemble South Africa’s infamous Jeffreys Bay. Winki has two defined take-off spots – the top of the point is known as Uppers and towards Torquay is Lowers. Some of the best waves come through at Lowers where it gets really hollow and fast.

Johanna Beach

Wave Type: Sand/rock-bottom beach break peaks
Best Swell Direction: SW
Best Swell Size: 4-6 ft
Best Wind Direction: NE
Best Tide: Depends on the banks

Johanna is where we go when we really have our backs up against the wall — like if we’ve got one or two days left in the waiting period and Bells is dead flat. If there is any swell in the Southern Ocean, Johanna will pick it up. If the sand banks are in great shape, you can get some of the best beach break waves in the world out there.

13th Beach - View live surf cam

Wave Type: Sand/rock-bottom beach break peaks
Best Swell Direction: SW
Best Swell Size: 2-5 ft
Best Wind Direction: N, NE
Best Tide: Depends on the banks

Only a 15-minute drive from Torquay, 13th is a good alternative if the swell and wind are wrong at Bells – it can definitely save us driving all the way to Johanna. Breaking over flat rock reef as well as sand, 13th offers up punchy A-frame peaks that in the right conditions bring out the best in high-performance.

Woolamai, Phillip Island - View live surf cam

Wave Type: sand & rock bottom beach break peaks
Best Swell Direction: SW
Best Swell Size: 2-5 ft
Best Wind Direction: NE
Best Tide: Depends on the banks

Woolamai is about a 4-hour drive from Torquay. Lucky for us, it’s a lot like Johanna, being a Southern Ocean swell magnet, but it still works on a north wind and can even handle a south-east wind. It’s one of those places that has A-frame banks all up and down the beach, and on its day it can be as good as any beach break in the world.

The best accomodation on the Surf Coast is right here overlooking Bells Beach in a Tipi

The best accomodation on the Surf Coast is right here overlooking Bells Beach in a Tipi

WHERE TO STAY

Bells Tipi

This is quite possibly the coolest place you'll ever sleep in your life. Marlon himself will set the 14foot Tipi for you and 3 mates with money-can't-buy views of the iconic Bells Beach location. The guys even include boards and there's a firepit for those frosty Victorian nights. It's just $100 a night but a priceless experience.

Jan Juc Beach House

Want to stick to the more stable infrastructure? Check out the Jan Juc Beach House located at the backup venue and just over the headland from Bells Beach. 

WHERE TO EAT

Cafe Moby Torquay
41 The Esplanade, Torquay

These guys have got a the healthiest wholesome menu going round - you have to try the pulled pork sandwich. The live music and a great vibe will keep you there long past your curfew. 

Birdrock Cafe Jan Juc
1 Stuart Ave Jan Juc 

Hang out here for long enough and you'll have all the WCT goss. They also sell the meanest Mexican breakfast and pizza menu in Victoria.

WHERE TO GET SOME WAX & A WETTIE

Rip Curl Torquay
101 Surf Coast Highway 

It's the hub for surf and it's one massive surf store. Pick yourself up the new season Flashbomb and some booties.

Strapper Surf Torquay
106 Surf Coast Highway 

They are the locals. These guys have got you covered with everything you need and need to know about surfing the rugged Victorian coastline and the right gear to ensure you have the best experience in and out of the water.  

THE DRAW

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: Mick Fanning & Carissa Moore

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 1 Match-Ups:

Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Davey Cathels (AUS)
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS), Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Conner Coffin (USA), TBD
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Keanu Asing (HAW), TBD
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), TBD
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Taj Burrow (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 9: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Kolohe Andino (USA), Miguel Pupo (HAW)
Heat 10: Nat Young (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Jadson Andre (BRA)

Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach Round 1 Match-Ups:

Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Chelsea Tuach (BRB)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Keely Andrew (AUS), TBD
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 5: Tyler Wright (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 6: Joanne Defay (FRA), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)

STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE EVENT VIA THE WORLD SURF LEAGUE

You've got to win it to ring it, Photo by Judith Scanlon

You've got to win it to ring it, Photo by Judith Scanlon

Lipped Fantasy Surfer Podcast

Cahill Bell-Warren & Jimmy Miles talk all things Bells featuring a bonus interview with 'The Giant Slayer' Stu Kennedy and the forecast outlook with our own Ben Macartney.

Tags: video , bells , beach (create Alert from these tags)

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