For Whom the Bell Tolls

July 06, 2015 0 Comments

For Whom the Bell Tolls

It was Thursday afternoon and pulse rates had just been set alight with reports of a synoptic leviathan hurtling out of the polar depths below South Africa. Forecasters were calling it the largest storm cell of the winter, with near unprecedented size and wave period that had more in common with swells in Hawaii than the Indian ocean. Its impact would ring out across the Indonesian archipelago and into Western and Southern Australia. It was going to be off the chart.

Not the type of thing you want to hear, when you are stuck on the eastern sea board of Australia and staring down the weekend barrel of 1-2ft onshore dross. On any other day and any other swell this would just be the way of things. They have waves - we don't and are left to canvas the digital world and pour vicariously over things that could have been, in places we are not.

Not this time. It just didn't sit well, a sort of nagging feeling in your gut that this was an opportunity too good to miss. Like one of those times when your alarm is going off and you make the choice to go back to sleep - only to lose out on un-crowded perfection. T

It was Thursday afternoon and pulse rates had just been set alight with reports of a synoptic leviathan hurtling out of the polar depths below South Africa. Forecasters were calling it the largest storm cell of the winter, with near unprecedented size and wave period that had more in common with swells in Hawaii than the Indian ocean. Its impact would ring out across the Indonesian archipelago and into Western and Southern Australia. It was going to be off the chart.

Not the type of thing you want to hear, when you are stuck on the eastern sea board of Australia and staring down the weekend barrel of 1-2ft onshore dross. On any other day and any other swell this would just be the way of things. They have waves – we don’t and are left to canvas the digital world and pour vicariously over things that could have been, in places we are not.

Not this time. It just didn’t sit well, a sort of nagging feeling in your gut that this was an opportunity too good to miss. Like one of those times when your alarm is going off and you make the choice to go back to sleep – only to lose out on un-crowded perfection. This was no moment to rollover. It was time to take action. Flights were to be scoured, leave passes implored and work negotiations initiated.

Where would we hit it? Indo? WA? Victoria? The computations and scenarios seemed endless but were whittled down in the time honored way by middle aged men with commitments. Time, money and spousal approval.

By Friday afternoon the plan had been firmed and flights booked. The long period swell would be filling in at Bells Beach through the Sunday and we would be there to meet it head on, surf the peak and then fly back same day.

Saturday was spent in the usual way before a good swell arrives – extrapolating the potential and conditions of the waves till they reach legendary proportions and then debating the equipment required to harness the mammoth and cold. The hype is nervously tangible.

Sunday. That damn alarm again. No time for sleeping. Pick up the lads and file bleary eyed into the airport praying that the 6’3 board limit is for guidance purposes only.

Excluding the obligatory McDonalds stop, its a 40min race from Avalon airport in the rental and the heart rate is elevated as we get to the Bones Rd intersection. Its a clear winters morning with a crisp vision of pure corduroy stretching to the horizon. The wave are pumping!

Bells Beach Lineup

Early lines

The long period swell is still building and there is some waiting in what is a nominal crowd but it is all worth it. The cold and size sharpens and invigorates the senses and you cant help feeling a little smug at making the right call and getting amongst it.  Even the beatings (and there are many) feel good.

Bells beach

This guy was ripping

It builds throughout the day and there are some real nuggets to be had by everyone.

Bells beach surfing

Some Bells bombs to defuse

Two sessions and five and half hours worth of surfing later there is nothing but broken bodies and smiles on the plane ride home.

Just goes to prove, that when the bell rings – sometimes you just have to go



Russel P
Russel P

Author

Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.


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