When Jordy Smith out-surfed the field in Rio de Janeiro four years ago, more or less inventing the genre of geographical landmark claims (imitating the iconic Christo Redentor statue) in the process, it didn’t require a giant leap of faith to back the big South African for a world title in the very near future.

And while 3 Top 5 finishes have since followed, The Brazilian storm, the rise and rise of the Florence machine and injury setbacks have meant that a World Title trophy sized gap still persists atop the Smith household sideboard, for now.

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But an emphatic win in the last event at Bells, scintillating freesurf form as evidenced in the recent 19 minute epic action movie ‘Just Now’ - (follow up to the similarly mind-blowing ‘Now Now’) mean that in 2017 Jordy’s time could well be… er… now.

And The oi Rio Pro could be the very event to further bolster Jordy’s 2017 claim for professional wave-riding’s ultimate prize.

Sure, it takes a wee bit of self-assurance to imitate (albeit a 98ft soapstone rendition of) Jesus in the world’s biggest Catholic country, and sure, it’s going to take a surfer of phenomenal natural ability to dethrone reigning world champ and current yellow jersey holder John Florence, but those are two of Jordy’s very USP’s.

Furthermore, while the South African’s continuing ascendency has

hardly gone under the radar, in Rio terms, relatively speaking, he’s just that.

You surely recall seeing the Florence residence held under round-the-clock fan siege in Tournotes? And we can all assume the media spotlight and fan expectation likely to pursue deSouza, Medina and Toledo are likely to be both glaring and weighty.

Throw in the circus surrounding Slater’s likely last lap, Fanning fanfare and a suite of other sub-plots and Jordy’s Saquarema campaign can conceivably be waged in relative tranquility.

What happens in the water between the horns is and always will be paramount, but what’s going on between the ears throughout is also key. In that regard, Smith seems more likely than other top contenders to be allowed to focus on the job at hand, in a city where partisanship can approach pandemonium.

Unedifying things have been said about sporting no.2’s, from No Fear t-shirts to references to unmarried female members of bridal parties sporting matching dresses and carrying bouquets... But no such talk is likely to perturb the ever-confident current world no.2.

True, Jordy Smith, to date, has never worn the coveted maillot jaune. But to borrow further from road cycling convention, he finds himself in an enviable position; returning to a city where he’s won before and coming off the back of victory at one of surfing’s most hallowed of grounds, The oi rio Pro 2017 could well be Jordy Smith’s coming out of the slipstream moment.