Last year the ASP World Tour enjoyed the most exciting title race in recent memory. In the end, it was Joel Parkinson that stepped to the podium for his first title, but over the course of the year the ratings lead changed a handful of times with Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Taj Burrow all out front at one time or another.
Add to the equation a surging John John Florence and other notable talents like Gabriel Medina and Julian Wilson and things were exceptionally interesting. But as they say, that's old news and with even more talent packed onto the ASP roster, 2013 is shaping up to be even tighter. Here are 10 reasons to be super excited as the tour gets underway March 2 with the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in Australia:
1. Kelly Slater Is More Motivated Than Ever
More than Parkinson defending his newly won title, more than John John Florence or Gabriel Medina gunning for their first titles, the question on everybody's mind is can Kelly Slater win yet another world title? He recently celebrated his 41st birthday, a fact that makes him the oldest surfer on tour, but he only missed out on winning a title last year by a few measly points. For Slater, age means nothing, motivation is everything.
2. Parko Is Now a Champion
After a decade of trying Parkinson finally got his world title. And while everybody on tour professes to be happy for the man, the truth is, they'd love nothing more than to take it from him this year. From Slater to his lifelong mate Fanning and every upstart on their way up, Parko's a marked man this year. How will he respond?
3. More John John Florence
Three Pipe Pro wins in a row and a highly successful rookie season have made John John Florence the talk of the tour. He made a run at the title last year, and he only appears to be getting better. Is Hawaii ready for its first world champ since Andy Irons? You bet they are.
4. Gabriel Medina Could Bring Brazil Its First Title
That's his stated goal. By the second half of last season he was firing on all cylinders, and given that he was only 17 years old and it was his first full year on tour, danger lurks under Medina's wings.
5. Kolohe Has Worked Hard This Offseason
While Florence and Medina were grabbing headlines last year Kolohe Andino was paying dues. His rookie season on tour may not have gone as well as he would have liked, but the experience was invaluable. His prowess at waves of consequence drastically improved, and with more strength and power in his turns he's going to be formidable in any and all conditions.
6. Jordy Smith Can Now Fully Concentrate on Competition
Expect the resurrection of Jordy Smith. Last year he was deep into filming his signature movie 'Bending Colours,' which Smith admits took more time and energy than anticipated. But with the film out to rave reviews, his competitive fire has been reignited and burns hot.
7. A Super-impressive Field of Rookies
Nat Young, Sebastian Zietz, Filipe Toledo and Glenn Hall should make things more than interesting. Representing California, Hawaii, Brazil and Ireland, respectively, they all boast solid fan bases and explosive, next-generation capabilities.
8. Mick Fanning Says He's 'More Prepared'
For two-time world champ, Mick Fanning finishing third in the world in 2012 wasn't all that satisfying. His boards and body are reportedly in top form, and with the tour kicking off at his home break of Snapper Rocks, he's "more prepared than ever."
9. Julian Wilson Has Title Aspirations ... This Year
Spending the offseason at home on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, Julian Wilson knows what he needs to do in 2013. The talent on tour continues to push him, and if he ever wants to contend for the title it's time to rise to the occasion. He even has a season strategy. "Winning a world title is always the driving force and you need to be consistent at every round and win one or two to be there," he said in an interview recently. "Parko's the perfect example."
10. What Will Wilko's Next Wettie Look Like?
Matty Wilkinson is renowned for being the entertainer on tour, infusing much-needed personality into the straight-faced ranks. With the support of his sponsor Rip Curl, he has taken to creating unique wetsuits for the various tour stops: sardine print in Portugal, tie-dyed for San Francisco, and a Joker suit for chilly Australia. What will he come up this year?
Follow Red Bull on Twitter for more updates.
- 6 factors that will affect women's surfing in 2013
- Childhood friends, now rivals, challenge for 2013 title
- Surfing tubes and catching crazy air in Brazil