With the 2011 Rip Curl Pro presented by FORD only days away a cavalcade of surfing’s elite descended upon Australia’s ancestral home of the sport, Bells Beach, for the Gathering of the Tribe Reunion.
To celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Rip Curl Pro and Bells Beach Easter Rally, Rip Curl and Surfing Victoria invited all past competitors, officials, staff and even fans that have simply watched the contest over the years, to Bells Beach for a unique reunion.
With an awesome turnout of past champions and a diverse range of the event’s characters from years gone by, it was a day full of memories and the sharing of old yarns.
Previous competitive foes caught up on past wins, event officials discussed controversial decisions from years gone by and surfing enthusiasts debated the best heats of all time.
Presented on stage in front of the gathered tribe were event administrators and significant surfers of the journey, along with the pioneers of the event.
Honouring the 50-year milestone, 2 x Rip Curl Pro Champion and past ASP World Champion Tom Curren (USA), rang the famous Bell to officially open this year’s Rip Curl Pro presented by FORD.
Speaking before he entered the water for a relaxed expression session, Curren said, “It’s amazing to be here to celebrate 50 years. It’s an event with great tradition and a long history, but the overall feeling of the contest is still the same from when I first started coming here as a teenager.”
Rip Curl Co-founder Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick added, “It is hard to believe the contest has been running for 50 years. I have to pinch myself and think if it’s real, because that’s a lot of history for one surfing event.”
“There have been so many highlights over the years, including the two big years of 65’ and 81’ and the first professional year in 1973. That was the first time we saw professional surfing in Australia and Michael Peterson’s surfing was a highlight that year,” said Warbrick.
Speaking excitedly about the upcoming 2011 Rip Curl Pro, Warbrick added, “We have good swell forecasts for this year, reports at this early stage are of a clean ground swell and offshore winds. Small to medium in the early stages of the waiting period, but they are hinting that it might get bigger towards Good Friday.”
Staying connected with the 2011 Rip Curl Pro is easy, with a live webcast at live.ripcurl.com
PHOTO: Rip Curl / Warbrick