With the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach just getting under way in Australia, April 3, it's easy to knock the second stop on tour for lacking consequence. No matter how good the forecast, the contest can reek of unimportance in the yearlong world title race.
Yet historically Bells has served as a major determinant in crowning a world champion, consistently slimming the field to just eight world title contenders. Over the last six years, the surfer to later be crowned world champ has always finished in the quarterfinals or higher at Bells.
Meaning that, since 2006-- which is as long as the tour has consisted of 11 events or less-- Bells has been a crucial indicator of how the rest of the year will transpire. Few early season statistics are as telling, making the early rounds of the Rip Curl Pro some of the most important-- a sort of sudden death for competitors who possess world title aspirations. And with just 10 events on tour this year, anyone who fails to see the quarterfinals at Bells might as well put down the medicine ball, layoff the surf coach, and pack up the board-bag until next year.
So which surfers can you expect to shatter world title hopes at Bells this year? John John Florence and Kolohe Andino are likely to shake things up. Andino has had a rough start, losing to the event winner of both the Gold Coast and Margaret River contests in close-scoring affairs. Eventually, you'd expect his luck to change with the heat draws. But that change of luck won't take place at Bells, where he's set to face current tour leader, Taj Burrow, in Round 1.
Once the judges figure out how to score Andino, a surfer of his caliber is bound to take out top surfers like Burrow. Similarly, with John John Florence coming hot off a win at Margaret River, expect him to use his newfound competitive confidence in cold water and open faces to stick it to the world's best.
Professional cinematographer Mike Prickett began his day in Tahiti last Wednesday, March 14, attending to business as usual. The 47-year-old Hawaiian was on location in Rangiroa, Tahiti shooting a commercial for wetsuits and dive gear.
However, after the shoot started, Prickett noticed a diver struggling in the water below him, and his rescue instincts took over. "I saw another diver sinking and panicking," said Prickett. "I dove down to 220 feet to save him, but he used up all my air."
Prickett was able to rescue the diver, but in performing the rescue he suffered serious decompression sickness from using his entire supply of oxygen in deep water. As a result, he was paralyzed from the chest down. Incredibly, Prickett started to regain feeling in his legs Tuesday, March 20, and doctors are now hopeful for his recovery.
This isn't the first time that Prickett has proven his resilience in the wake of a tragic accident. In 1984, when he broke his right and left legs in a serious car crash, doctors thought that he would never walk again. But after turning to swimming for therapy, Prickett healed, and discovered his love of underwater cinematography through the rehabilitation process.
Prickett has an incredible ability to maintain optimism in the face of adversity. In the aftermath of the recent accident he stated, "I'm glad I was able to rescue [the diver] and he could walk away from the incident."
Surfing has changed so much since 1954, when Greg Noll first began surfing on Oahu's North Shore. It's nice knowing that some things, like a durable pair of boardshorts, haven't strayed far from their original form.
When Billabong re-released a limited edition of Greg Noll's iconic black and white, striped trunks, Noll signed off on them-- literally-- as fit for the type of waves that he built his reputation surfing.
In his classic, bullish style, Noll stated, "When you slide down the face of a 25 foot wave, they're guaranteed not to blow the ass out, so if you do-- on that 25 foot wave-- you can bring 'em back and get another pair."
Greg Noll-60 from Billabong USA on Vimeo.
As the majority of sticker-punching pro surfers continue pushing the limits of progression and design by shaving a quarter inch off their thrusters for an added quarter point on their heat scores, Tyler Warren and the subjects of The Tyler Warren Experiments are exploring progression in the sense that most other surfers experience it.
The Tyler Warren Experiments - Trailer from Build Worldwide on Vimeo.
The full-length film features a crew of world-renowned shapers including the Campbell brothers, Manuel Caro, and Skip Frye working in collaboration with surfers on the cutting edge of so-called 'alternative design,' such as Dave Rastovich, Alex Knost, and Joel Tudor.
Naturally, you can expect these guys to explore the boundless heights of fun and enjoyment while setting a few unexplored standards of their own.
On Monday, March 5, a group of locals and tourists united to save an estimated 30 dolphins from beaching themselves. The improvised rescue took place on the shores of Arraial do Cabo, Brazil, just north of the city of Rio De Janeiro.
While entire pods of dolphins are known to sometimes beach themselves, the occurrence is still not fully understood by experts. According to MSNBC, common dolphins will sometimes strand themselves in large numbers due to their tight social structure, even if they're not sick. Luckily, this pod was in good health and managed to swim back out to sea with a little help from friendly beach goers.
In the stunning video above, you can watch the entire event unfold, as the dolphins move to shore, beach themselves, and are assisted safely back into the water.
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