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Tags: Drew Courtney, Fred Patacchia, Owen Wright, Rip Curl Pro Bells
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The first event of the WCT season is crucial to world title aspirations. A good start on the Gold Coast can slingshot you into world title contention. A bad result can affect your entire year. A perfect example is Kelly Slater’s early exit last year at Snapper. He seemingly never recovered. Since 2005 only 14 surfers have won a WCT event. Just 14. Can you believe that? If that doesn’t prove how difficult winning a ’CT event is, I don’t know what does.
The new One World ASP format will make things even more interesting this year, even if an Asian MIT grad can’t figure out how it works. With the Top 44 being reduced to 32 surfers at the mid-point of the season, a good start in 2010 is more important than ever. Additionally, there’s been a lot of hype surrounding the “revised” judging criteria for 2010 and the Quiksilver Pro will be its first test at the elite level. And according to recent reports, Snapper is looking prime and ready to fire just in time. But who knows? This is a mobile event and Duranbah might see a little action as well.
Joel Parkinson (2009 Result 1st)
The aftertaste of last year’s debacle may be still haunting him like Macbeth’s demons. Unless his conscience is “too full o’ the milk of human kindness,” Parko will be looking for blood in 2010, and he’ll have more of the crimson liquid on his hands than the aforementioned Shakespearean protagonist. After nursing a bum ankle during the later half of ’09, he appears to be 100 percent healthy and that equals bad news for the rest of the top 44. Because he’ll be surfing in front of a hometown crowd, you know he wants to win this one badly. And I expect him to do just that.
Kelly Slater (2009 Result 17th)
On his death bed whiskey maker Jack Daniel went out in style. His last words were “One last drink, please.” 2010 might be Kelly’s ASP farewell tour and if he truly wants it he will be popping champagne bottles in Hawaii (or before that) in lieu of Tennessee whiskey. Last year, on the Gold Coast, everyone was talking about the kneeboards he was riding. This year they’ll still be talking about his boards, but instead opponents will also be on their knees praying they don’t draw the 9-time champ in a heat. I expect no less than a finals appearance, and if he decides to do the entire tour he’ll win number 10 this year. Book it.
Bede Durbidge (2009 Result 5th)
Bede finished second in the world in 2008. Last year he finished third. How does this guy get virtually no press? Maybe Al Qaeda should recruit the Australian, because he’s so far under the radar he could hop on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Los Angeles with bomb strapped to his belly and no one would notice. Maybe he should start wearing eyeliner or go on a Tiger Woods-esque sex bender. All kidding aside, his local knowledge and ability to beat anyone when he’s on will pay off. Expect him to make the semis.
Mick Fanning (2009 Result 3rd)
If the “revised” judging criteria holds true, which on paper rewards progressive surfing more than ever, Mick might suffer more than any of the other world title contenders. He just doesn’t have the manuevers in his arsenal to match up with like Dane, Jordy, Slater and the up-and-coming young guns. But the ASP Tour is not a Kai Neville or Taylor Steele film and the two-time champ knows how to win. Besides, the judges have suffered from Paris Hilton’s Lazy Eye Syndrome for years. Why should 2010 be any different? You certainly can’t knock Mick’s innate competitive desire and ability to win when it counts. I’m pretty sure he’ll get a good result, but don’t expect them to hand out Micktory T-shirts and trucker hats when it’s over.
Taj Burrow (2009 Result 3rd)
Taj is on a roll. He won the last WCT event of 2009 at Pipeline and the recent 4-star WQS at Burleigh. That might give him the momentum he needs to mount a world title campaign in 2010. Consistency is his strength and weakness. He’s always in the hunt but can’t seem to ever finish the job. His clock his ticking. It can be argued the Western Australian gave progressive contest surfing its launching pad. If the tour was a Tennessee Williams’ play he’d be Amanda Wingfield, longing for the days when he was the belle of the ball. He still has a few prime years left, and half of the time competitive surfing is just luck. Taj always comes through with good results on the Gold Coast. I can’t see him finishing with less than an equal fifth here.
Dane Reynolds (2009 Result 9th)
There’s so much hype surrounding Dane he’s like a genetically engineered love child of Barack Obama, Miki Dora and Christian Fletcher. Dane is progressive surfing’s perceived savior. Last year at Jeffreys Bay he hit his stride and began to live up to the hype—at least competitively. He has so much talent and is so in tune with the ocean, that if he was female the tides might just ebb and flow with his menstrual cycle. If the revised judging criteria isn’t just PR propaganda, his go-for-broke approach in heats will surely benefit. A good start here may just propel him into the top 5 this year. It’s a sizable gamble to state he’ll be on the winner’s podium. At Snapper, he could lose in the first round or win the whole thing. My prognostication skills are like Dane’s surfing and I’m willing to gamble on this one.
Jordy Smith (2009 Result 9th)
I saw the South African assassin surfing a marginal beachbreak in Orange County about a week ago and he was just lighting it up. He might be the best surfer in the world right now. What amazes me about Jordy is he’s 6’2’’ and nearly 200 pounds. He can throw buckets of water and huck himself six feet in the air on the same wave. He probably won’t win, but I predict he’ll make the trek to Bells with no less than an equal fifth under his belt.
Owen Wright (2009 Result N/A)
Owen is my dark horse pick to win the Quik Pro. The only negative for Owen at Snapper is he’s a goofyfoot, which means he’ll be on his backhand. If some of the comp runs at D-Bah that might help his chances even more because it’s a right or left. When it comes to competing he has balls the size of watermelons. Slater? Parko? Mick? No worries. It doesn’t seem to faze the kid one iota. If he drew Jesus of Nazareth in round three he’d probably shrug and say “looks like I’m going to have to one up this guy’s walk-on-water routine.” And he probably would.
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Tags: Bede Durbidge, Dane Reynolds, Joel Parkinson, Jordy Smith, Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Owen Wright, Quiksiver Pro, Snapper Rocks, Taj Burrow
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Winning the WQS is like being the best a plumber in the world. I guess it’s something to be proud of, but no one really cares. That being said, Daniel Ross won the WQS in 2009. But I can’t include Dan “The Plumber” in The Top Fucking 5© because he’s not really a rookie. This is his second attempt after a one-and-done 2008. With the new one-tier format starting next year he’s the penultimate WQS champ. Let’s look at the cream of the WQS crop.
5) Patrick Gudauskas
Pat narrowly missed the cut last year and his motivation propelled him into second place in the WQS ratings. His rodeo clown in the Maldives got a ton of press. Then all three Guduaski (I’m assuming the plural version is akin to Cacti) surfed the same heat at Sunset last month. Even Octomom was envious. This is what I wrote about the Gudauskas brothers a few months ago. “The Gudauskas brothers are everywhere. Just now I went to the fridge to grab a beer and one of them was parked right beside the hardened butter and eggs. The little fucker had his wetsuit on too. They are multiplying I tell you. On the seventh day God got so tired of producing the little miracles of joy that the Gudauski are, he needed to take a day off, kick off his Reef sandals and decompress.” Prepare to see more of them. Pat is part of the San Clemente trio that qualified for the WCT this year. Pat and Tanner Gudauskas, along with Nate Yeomans, might not be Athos, Porthos, and Aramis but the “all for one, one for all” credo might just give them a boost for their maiden Dream Tour voyage.
4) Matt Wilkinson
The Aussie goofyfoot told Stab Magazine earlier this year he had the ASP judges figured out and it looks like he was right. “They will give you a seven for one air reverse,” he said. “I thought, surely I can do two air reverses in 15 waves. Two sevens in a heat is all you need to beat someone who does backhand or forehand reos all contest. You’d have to be retarded to fail to do two air reverses in 15 waves.” Matt has reverses wired but he’s going to have to mix it up to compete with the elite. He can go either way, He might blow up or he might struggle. If he puts together a good showing at Snapper and Bells he just might be a darkhorse candidate for Rookie of the Year.
3) Brett Simpson
Brett comes from a long line of talented Huntington Beach surfers that seem to fizzle out like candle at the Playboy mansion’s grotto on fat girl night. When they hit the world stage something happens. Most don’t even make it this far. Brett peaked at the US Open last year. Speaking of HB, last week the Huntington Beach City Council introduced a measure aimed to outlaw beer pong. I’m serious. But Simpo is part of the new Huntington…clean cut, progressive. But I’m a sucker for the seedy side. The side that would charge 15-foot Pipe and Chopes then down a few Hinanos in the channel between heats. It might take a few years, but he’ll find his rhythm and embrace the dark side of Surf City.
2) Dusty Payne
What’s this? A Volcom surfer on the WCT? Seeing more than two Volcom surfers on tour is like seeing more than two Indians together off the reservation. It never happens. Except Indian casinos. The 21-year-old from Maui replaced fellow Volcom Stoner Bruce Irons and qualified for the ’CT on his on his first attempt. He just might be the best of the lot and if you’re going to gamble on Rookie of the Year, he’d be a solid bet. With the new, one-tier ranking system even Dusty is in the dark. “Guys on the tour have no idea how it works,” he said during the Volcom Pipeline Pro. I predict Dusty will make the cut and finish in the high teens this year. However, the over/under on the amount of times web announcers utter the phrase “Maui Wowie” is exactly 420.
1) Owen Wright
Editor’s Note: I asked the infamous Enoch Ward (AKA Blasphemy Rottmouth, AKA Ol’ Dirty Bastard, AKA ♂ ) to tackle Owen’s segment.
Dear Owen Wright,
I congratulate you on being the only surfer on earth that prays each night to his Laird and Savior for ALL of his heats to be against Kelly Slater. Luckily you never pearl because your nose acts as a tri-pod anytime your thorax bends in excess of 13 degrees forward. I don’t mean to poke fun at something only the Good Laird or an inebriated plastic surgeon in Tijuana can fix… but good god man! That nose would cause a continually-lying proboscis monkey named Pinocchio to blush with envy. I halfway expect there to be 74 smaller noses in your left nostril alone. Do your boogers come with training wheels on them? If Larry King grew his frosted tips out, shed his glasses, and donned a Rip Curl rubber, then you’ve found your stunt double for Kai Neville’s next rumored project: ‘Modern Colonoscopy II: Bare-Back Mountin’ with Dion Agius and some of his Special Friends.’ In summary, keep the sacred words of Alfredo Villas-Boas near and dear to your heart as you paddle out for your first heat at Snapper: “On my surfboard I am grounded like cement on my feet.” Peace and good tidings.
Always and forever,
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Tags: ASP, Brett Simpson, Dusty Payne, Gudauskas, Matt Wilkinson, Owen Wright, Top Fucking 5
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Tags: Andy Irons, Dane Reynolds, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, Owen Wright
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By now you know Joel Parkinson won the O’Neill World Cup yesterday at Sunset Beach. It was a nice little precursor to the impending world title showdown at Pipeline as Parko took down Sunny Garcia, Mick Fanning and Dusty Payne. It was the last WQS contest of 2009.
The final 15 ASP WQS qualifiers for the 2010 World Tour are:
Ross, Daniel (AUS)
Gudauskas, Patrick (USA)
Andre, Jadson (BRA)
Melling, Adam (AUS)
Wright, Owen (AUS)
Munro, Luke (AUS)
Thompson, Jay (AUS)
Yeomans, Nathan (USA)
Payne, Dusty (HAW)
Simpson, Brett (USA)
Wilkinson, Matt (AUS)
Gudauskas, Tanner (USA)
Logie, Travis (ZAF)
Polo, Marco (BRA)
Thornton, Blake (AUS)
California is well represented with the Gudauskas brothers, Brett Simpson and Nate Yeomans.
Brett Simpson joins fellow Huntington Beach surfer Timmy Reyes.
Dusty Payne becomes the first Maui surfer of qualify for the WCT. Additionally, half of the Modern Collective is now on tour.
Aussies continue their dominance on tour with nearly half of the rookie class.
Travis Logie rejoins the tour and joins Jordy Smith as the only other surfer from South Africa for 2010.
Owen Wright and Dusty Payne might become the most talked about rookies since Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith.
And finally, with renewed optimism the Rebel Tour will debut in 2010, there are several surfers on the cusp of qualification that may gain entry to the Dream Tour due to fallout.
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Tags: Brett Simpson, Dusty Payne, Gudauskas, Owen Wright
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