ASP #10 Kai Otton
New Channel Island boards and a new sponsor seem to have put a rocket up the cheerful Aussie’s arse and his win over Parko and Taj in Round 4 on dark in the best conditions of the event provided the best ridden waves of the comp. Now has a third and two fifths in last three events and is looking solid on his promise of cracking a top 10 spot. I am genuinely happy for him.
ASP #9 Adriana DeSouza
DeSouza’s win at Bells now seems a long way away as a series of 25ths, 9ths and 13ths see him struggling to hold onto his top 10 rating. Once a Brazilian world title hopeful, that mantle must now pass on to Medina. Brett Simpson did him here in Round 3, and although each heat had an element of luck, that wasn’t a heat he would have lost a few years ago.
ASP #8 Josh Kerr
One of the biggest upsets of Round 2 with Aritz handing Kerrzy his first 25th of the year and his first bad result since way back in Brazil. His ranking is even better when adjusted and his surfing and equipment choice means his top 10 ranking has never more natural. Would have been really dangerous in the onshore mush on finals day, but with Portugal and Pipe to come, his tuberiding should see him climb even higher.
ASP #7 Michel Bourez
Three 25ths are stacked against a final in Bali and semis in Trestles, Michel’s consistency is the only area of his act he needs to work on. His small wave act has become less brutal and when he finally scores the results in the waves that match his power at Chopes, Fiji and Pipe, he’ll become one of the those select 7 or 8 guys in with a shout of winning every event.
ASP # 6 Julian Wilson
The most consistent surfer after Mick since Fiji (with three 5ths and a 2nd in the last four events) it’s a matter of time before Joycey starts properly butting horns for a world title. His surfing is so complete, from 2 feet beachies to 10 foot Pipe, and his competitive drive so strong, I can’t see any other way. Wave starved in his quarter against Medina, he’s using the last two events as a means to crack the top 5. I wouldn’t bet against it.
ASP #5 Joel Parkinson
In any given heat, Parko will surf two waves good enough to beat most of the guys in the comp. Sure he scraped through a round 2 match up against Marco Lacomare, the judges both underscoring the power of the Frenchman, and overscoring the flow of Parko, but that’s not his problem and when surfing like he has nothing to lose, he will go close to winning one of the last two events. 2013 has been a world title hangover year, 2014 might see him right back in the running. If he can be bothered.
ASP #4 Taj Burrow
Oh Taj, another year and at the 15th year of trying, still no world title to show for his innovation and determination. Lesser men would have crumbled. The surf was atrocious for his round 5 match against Fanning, but he still made a priority mistake with three minutes to go, which inevitably Mick punished. That right there might be the story of Taj’s career. Still highly relevant, just competitively flawed. Can’t the ASP just give him a world title?
ASP # 3 Jordy Smith
Looked fit and firing through most of France, but forced out in pretty horrible conditions for his round 5 match up and was Holy Toledoed, needing an average score to back up a 8.87. In all honesty there wasn’t much he could have done, and up until that point his feel good nature and complete surfing act saw him in the running. His dismantling of a confused Dane in Round 2 was almost inhumane. He must watch Mick and wonder how to mistake free and on point. In about 5 years he just might be. Right now, competitively, he is just lagging behind.
ASP #2 Kelly Slater
Kelly came into the event with a sore shoulder and with two 13ths in his kit bag. He needed a result to put pressure on Mick, and until his quarterfinal looked a good bet to do so. The rampaging Toledo, and a uncharacteristic fall on a wave that could have made a difference meant that instead of making ground, he lost it. You can’t write him off, but he now needs Mick to stumble. He as angry as hell after the quarter (there were rumours of some board throwing) which means he still wants it. I just don’t think he’ll get it this year.
ASP #1 Mick Fanning
Like a boa contrictor slowly choking a very large marsupial to death, Mick’s win means he now has a stranglehold on the world title. His surfing looks after itself. Fast, crisp and with just enough variation to bring some oo la lah’s from the French crowd. He also has a game plan for every opponent, be it 11 times world champs or Brazilian flying machines. He is so mentally strong that mistakes have been removed from his act and so personally at ease that he is actively enjoying every minute of the tour. Put it all together and you get a third world title.