THE wait is officially on for this year’s Bells Beach 50-Year Storm Invitational, with voting closed and a line-up of 30 surfers chosen.
Organisers received votes from more than 1,200 people this year, welcoming a lot of new names and younger chargers, including two local female surfers, to the list of invitees and alternates.
Surfers and members of the community gathered on Saturday to celebrate the opening ceremony at Bells Beach and are looking forward to seeing big wave surfers compete to raise awareness and funds for mental illness in the memory of Shaun Brooks.
The ceremony featured a traditional Wathaurong Welcome to Country and the introduction of the invitees, followed by photos and a party wave, where a throng of surfers caught a wave together in an act of remembrance for Shaun and solidarity for mental health awareness.
The event will be held on the most perfect big day of winter waves at Bells Beach in the designated waiting period, which began on June 8 and ends on August 31. Organisers will run the contest in north-westerly offshore winds and large groomed conditions.
Troy Brooks, former World Championship Tour surfer, and Shaun’s younger brother, again polled the highest number of votes for this year’s event.
“It’s a great time to get the Surf Coast community together, share a wave and drive awareness for mental health,” Troy said.
“Shaun loved big Bells – maybe not the sharing waves part, unless he was dropping in – but the idea is to get everyone involved and everyone joining in.”