In just over a week’s time the commencement to the 2013 World Tour season will unfold at the iconic Snapper Rocks in Australia, and all eyes are fixed on an impressive rookie class joining a staggering number of world title contenders.
At the starting line to any season, pundits will agree upon a small handful of surfers who should be considered legitimate suitors for the final crown. This year, nearly a third of the top 32 are very real title threats, including four that have already won a title: Joel Parkinson, Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, and C.J. Hobgood.
Then you have guys like Taj Burrow, Adriano de Souza, and Josh Kerr, who are on the verge of becoming veterans yet seem to be doing their best competitive surfing to date. With a little momentum, any of these three could easily hoist their first title trophy.
Then there are the young phenoms like John John Florence, Gabriel Medina, Owen Wright, Julian Wilson, and Jordy Smith, who have all gotten their rookie jitters out of the way and are looking as poised as ever. These are the guys who will undoubtedly take surfing into the future once the Slaters, Fannings, and Parkos decide to call it quits. For these young men, a world title is more of a “when” than an “if.”
Though it’s hard to consider any rookie a true title contender, this year’s roster of new faces is as impressive as any, with young names like Sebastian Zietz, Nat Young, and Filipe Toledo looking to turn some heads on the world stage. Also joining these youngsters is 31-year-old Glenn “Micro” Hall, who may lack the aerial flair of his fellow freshmen but more than makes up for it with competitive savvy and nerves of steel. While a rookie title contender is rare, it’s not out of the question; last year’s rookie of the year, John John Florence, nearly did just that by finishing fourth in the world on his first try.
Photos courtesy of ASP