14 Years Old & Charging Harder Than You

27 Jun 2017 9 Share

Sally Mac

Coastalwatch Digital Editor

Bella (left) and Angela (right) loving their life as ultimate groms on the Victorian Surf Coast, Photo provided.

Bella (left) and Angela (right) loving their life as ultimate groms on the Victorian Surf Coast, Photo provided.

COASTALWATCH | INTERVIEW

On Saturday 24th June 2017, Bells Beach and the Surf Coast of Victoria experienced an epic long-period SSW groundswell. Depending on who you talked to, the wave height that day was between eight and twelve feet and while it remained too big for most, the wind swung offshore, the sun came out, two locals headed out. 

They were among the youngest surfers out there facing the swell that day and they did it a confidence, innocence and insane youthful energy.

We spoke to Arabella (Bella) Wilson and Angela Ball on Sunday morning, just hours after their big day at Bells. It was 10am and they'd just got back home from their third surf in less than 24 hours. Their arms were a bit jelly-like they admitted, but you could tell by their laughing and the unexpected strength in the tone of their voices, they were absolutely beyond stoked.

As we laughed our way through, what felt like a conversation with good friends for the good part of an hour, their smiles and sense of achievement was reaching right through the phone and I was part the exhilaration and liveliness they were still riding on.

On Saturday morning before the sun came out, the girls stood side-by-side before they paddled out into an epic Bells Beach swell. Photo provided.

On Saturday morning before the sun came out, the girls stood side-by-side before they paddled out into an epic Bells Beach swell. Photo provided.

The pair live within – what they call, as teenagers – walking distance to the famous Bells Beach. The girl's dads are surfers. 

Bella got up to do a surf check with her dad and they saw, as forecast, Bells cranking. The waves were pounding, a bit straight and stormy, but certainly surfable. The inaugural 50 Year Storm event in memory of Shaun Brooks was called off.

Father and daughter drove straight round to surf buddy Angela's house and knocked on her window to wake her up. Just like a scene out of the surf movie of your childhood Ange says "I heard the knock on my window and Bella yelled, 'C'mon it's pumping, get up!" 

The girls were dropped off with their 5'9 and 6'1 boards as their dad's headed off to work. To understand this, you really have to grasp the concept of a local surf community and the competence the girls have as water women and surfers.

Not the slightest bit phased by the size, nor anxiety of onlookers, they suited up and psyched each other up among the building crowd on the hill.

"My dad sent me a text saying, 'I don't think you should head out at Bells if the report is accurate', but I didn't see it before we paddled out." The girls surf every day between Jan Juc, The Rock, Sparrows and Bells, sometimes more twice or thrice and although Saturday was big, they were ready for what they were heading into mentally, physically and with all the support they could get. 

"It was pretty scary, yeah, but we were both frothing." They raced to complete 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. 

They made their way down into the depths of the amphitheatre as the high tide swept masses of water and foam up to the base of the cliff. They carefully traversed towards Jarosite, just around the cliff face on the south side. They stood together on the rock platform, watching and waiting for the right time to launch. They were probably still laughing and cracking jokes. The adrenalin, they both said, was the real vivid emotion they recall feeling as they waited for the right moment. 

The paddle out took them about half-an-hour. "There were a few guys in front of us and they got smoked by a set." They laugh at that. Ange continued, "We timed it perfectly and paddled out by ourselves."
"Yeah, and we only had to duck dive once in the shorey." Said a stoked 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 laugh.

If you compare photos of a moderate size swell at Bells and Saturday's swell you'll truly understand the ratio we're talking here, but the girls comment that they were sitting a lot further out in the lineup than they ever had before.

"Someone said, 'If you think you're out far enough, go further.' There were still waves breaking so much further out than where we were and you could feel the energy with each lump of water passing under you."

In the video above provided by @KingKlips, Bella is pushed onto a solid wave by Tim Stevenson. That was her final wave for their morning session. She steps off her board onto the sand where she was whistled and cheered as she made her way back up the stairs to the crowded carpark of onlookers. "It was pretty cool!" Said Bella. 

Aside from being some of the youngest out there Bella and Angela were the only girls in the lineup. "There are a few girls surfing every day locally like us, but we were the only girls out there on Saturday, it made us feel pretty special." And they put in the hours with three hours in the morning and two hours before total darkness. A solid day in the surf.

"I waited on the beach for 30 minutes for Bella to get that wave in in the morning (in the video). Yeah, then we got a lift home but headed back out in the arvo." Said Ange.

They wrapped up the interview with a little bit of friendly competition. "Oh yeah, and we're having a competition to see who can stay in their 3/2 steamer (before having to go to the 4/3) the longest this year."  They piped up at the same time. "No booties or anything."

HA. This editor is up for that challenge in the weak Sydney winter. Finally, I asked, "You're little legends now, earning yourselves a real name, is this gonna be your thing? Has this triggered the start of you charging big waves together? "Yep, definitely." They replied without skipping a beat. 

Angela's wave on her board by Robbo. Photo provided.

Angela's wave on her board by Robbo. Photo provided.

Bella's bomb, Photo by @kingklips

Bella's bomb, Photo by @kingklips

	Bella & Angela staying strong in their 3/2 steamers as the bleak winter rolls in in Victoria. Photo provided

Bella & Angela staying strong in their 3/2 steamers as the bleak winter rolls in in Victoria. Photo provided

Photo by Brendan Boxall

Photo by Brendan Boxall


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