VIDEO: Two Little Girls Tear Down Big Wave Stereotypes
VIDEO // BELLS BEACH 2017
This time last year, the then 14-year-olds Angela Ball and Arabella Wilson woke up as the sun rose over the iconic Bells Beach. As they approached the car park that overlooks the beach from Rincon through Winkipop, they could see the lines stacked to the horizon.
The beautiful thing about Bells Beach is the height to which you look out over the beach, it’s breath-taking – like the first time I went there, it literally took my breath away. Secondly, you can see infinity lines, corduroy of the deepest blue and mist rising slowly from each.
On Saturday 24 June, the two groms pulled their boards out of their cars in the chilly eight degree winter morning. The water about the same. They brought their big wave guns down today. 5’9 and 6’1, that’s the size of my shortboard and my fish.
Most kids around Australia would be heading off to Saturday sport; AFL, soccer, netball, hockey, rugby. Not Bella and Ange, they were mentally preparing to paddle out at 10-15 foot Bells Beach. There was no competition on that day, and there were no other women in the water. Today, there was a definitive understanding that despite their young age, they were women out there. Showing no vulnerability, just strength, excitement and determination.
As they made their way down the golden coloured, wooden stairs towards the southern rock platform, they chatted about the size, where they’d jump off and how cold it was. Were they scared? Probably, but these two were raised in the swells that grow out of the deep Southern Ocean. The waves they’ve surfed all their lives have more power on a one foot day, than a six foot day at an East Coast beachie.
“It was pretty scary, yeah, but we were both frothing.” Both Ange and Bella complete to finish the sentence. “This was our first real swell. We usually paddle out when it’s pretty big together, but this was definitely the biggest.” Said Bella.
Standing on the edge they timed and waited for the sets. They held their breath and jumped. Their arms were working overtime for half an hour as they paddled out to the lineup.
“There were a few guys in front of us and they got smoked by a set.” They laugh at that. Ange said, “We timed it perfectly and paddled out by ourselves.”
“Yeah, and we only had to duck dive once in the shorey.” Said Bella. “We were so psyched being out there with the local legends. When we paddled into the lineup we saw Tim Stevenson and he yelled out to us ‘Bella, girls come over and sit with us.”
They didn’t feel alone out there as the Southern Ocean sent in sets like a bulldozer in a quarry. “We got like three waves each. They were about eight or nine feet.” They said together, “But the grommets on the beach were calling nine or ten.” They laughed.
At 15, both girls have now been sponsored by major surf brands and they continue to impress with their irrepressible energy and love of the sport.
One year on, this is still one of the most incredible stories I’ve covered in surf media. Well done girls, keep charging.