You could argue that Bells suits the elite women's surfing as well as anywhere else on Tour. The Championship Tour (CT) women consistently sink their rails into the ultra-carveable sections of the bowl.
In Margaret River, with only two days remaining in the waiting period, an interesting call was made. With giant swell looming, half the women wanted to run in the smaller, yet onshore conditions. The other two wanted to wait for potential offshore winds and a building SW pulse with the men. The decision was made to run a day early and Sally Fitzgibbons made the most of it, taking out rivals Steph Gilmore and Tyler Wright in the process.
After a down year for Sally in 2016, where she finished a career-low 8th overall in the ratings, she now owns a share of the Jeep Yellow Jersey, tied with Steph Gilmore through two events. Steph and Sally also stake claim to five combined Bells victories, with Steph owning three, but Sally earning the two most recent trophies. They own the highest number of Excellent Heat scores (16.00 or better) in Bells history, with Steph edging out Sally 19-18. It should be mentioned that Sally has done it in 13 fewer heats, however.
The scary part about that is another woman on tour has the edge on both when it comes to Bells. Guess who?
Carissa Moore, of course. Who else but Riss?
Riss might as well be born for this wave. Her carves are mind-blowing. Carissa nabbed three straight wins from 2013-2015 and has made the Semifinals or better in every attempt other than her rookie year on tour. Unsurprisingly, Moore also owns the highest Average Heat Score at Bells, at 15.25, and the highest Heat Win Percentage at 76%. In other words, she's probably on your fantasy team already and I can stop boasting.
One name you may not be as familiar with who has had great success at Bells is Lakey Peterson. She missed the event due to injury last year but has never placed lower than the Quarterfinals here, and owns the second-highest AHS at 14.86. She also currently dates a guy from Torquay, and surely frequents the place more than anyone other than maybe Nikki Van Dijk, who grew up just down the coast. Local knowledge matters at Bells, you can bank on it.
Of course, you can't discount last year's event champion, Courtney Conlogue, or defending World Champion Tyler Wright, but they've historically been just a notch quieter than the Carissa/Sally/Steph show when it comes to Bells.
The question now is, which other women have potential to break out?
It's worth watching Tatiana Weston-Webb, who finished third at last year's event. The judges will have a clear point of difference comparing her backside attack to the primarily regular-footed field.
Another sneaky pick in the lowest fantasy tier is Silvana Lima. Twenty-nine percent of her total heats at Bells have scored into the excellent range.
Lastly, keep in mind that Malia Manuel injured her knee at Margaret's and has been replaced for Bells by Isabella Nichols.
Make sure to finalize your Fantasy picks now because we will see the women hit the water soon. The first call is Wednesday (in Australia) at 6:45 a.m. AWST.