The 50 Year Storm Brews at Bells Beach

Bells Beach, VIC/AUS (Thursday 12 April 2018): The best big-wave surfers on Victoria’s Surf Coast will once again gather again at Bells Beach on the biggest swell of the winter to honour one of their own, and raise awareness for mental health.

The Bells Beach 50 Year Storm Invitational will see local legend Shaun Brooks honoured as a field of family, friends, local surfing royalty and big-wave chargers paddle out for a one-day invitational contest at Bells. Shaun, a former World Junior and Victorian Open champion, took his own life in 2012 after a long battle with mental illness.

“Shaun was always at home in big waves and especially loved Bells Beach, so it’s great to have an event where he’d be in his element at big Bells,” said Shaun’s younger brother, Troy Brooks, who himself surfed on the World Championship Tour for four years and is the number one invitee for the 50 Year Storm.

Last year was the inaugural year for the 50 Year Storm, and although the winter delivered swells at Bells Beach around the minimum 12 feet mark, conditions weren’t perfect, so the event didn’t run.

The big change from last year’s event is that the field has grown from 18 surfers to 30, with 25 of these places in the field voted on by the public. The other five wildcards will be decided by the Brooks family and the 50 Year Storm Committee.

The tight-knit Torquay surfing community and surf industry has swung behind the event, last year $10,000 donated to charities One in Five and Headspace, which will benefit the local community.

The event channels the fabled history of Bells Beach, with the name a cheeky reference to the 1991 cult movie, Point Break, where the lead character Bodhi paddles out at Bells in the “50-year storm” never to return.

Public voting for the 25 surfers opens on April 12 and closes April 26. The voting form can be found at

The opening ceremony for the 50 Year Storm Invitational will be held at Bells Beach on June 2nd. The ceremony will feature a traditional Wathaurong welcome, the introduction of the invitees, then a paddle out and party wave for all those who wish to be involved. Everyone welcome.

The waiting period for this year’s event begins on June 2 and closes August 31.

The Bells Beach 50 Year Storm Invitational is supported by Coastalwatch, Reef, One Agency - Shaun O'Callaghan, Lost Surfboards, Rip Curl, Quiksilver, Dragon, Modom, Surfing Victoria, GBoards, Need Essentials and Speakys Geelong.


About One in Five: Investing in research will help us find the answers to why one in five people has a mental illness. One in five Australians suffer from a mental illness. We are striving to make one in five, none in five.


About Headspace: Headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation providing early intervention mental health services to 12-25 year olds, along with assistance in promoting young peoples’ wellbeing.