The 2005 WCT Preview With Sunny, Paulo, CJ, and Rochelle.

WCT 2005 PreviewThe faces and places that make up the world tour in ’05.

Just three months after the final horn at the 2004 Pipeline Masters (the last WCT event of the year, where Bruce Irons charged into the final, requalifying for the world tour in the process) the tour is back. No rest for the wicked, as they say. Two thousand and four was an exciting year on tour, with Andy reasserting his dominance with a third-consecutive men’s world title and Sofia Mulanovich unseating six-time World Champ Layne Beachley to shift the balance of power on the women’s tour toward youth, but ’05 promises to be even brighter.

On the men’s tour, Andy will be defending his crown, but it’s not going to be easy. Parko is hungry for the world title, and anyone who’s ever seen him surf knows he can do it. Last year he missed two events and still finished second. Andy will also face stiff competition from Taj, Kelly, C.J. and Damien Hobgood, and possibly brother Bruce, who survived his rookie year on tour and will be much more WCT-savvy in 2005. Mick Fanning returns from a yearlong injury, and everyone will be looking for him to finish in the top five. Vets like Luke Egan, Sunny, and Occy still pose a threat to Andy, too, as both potential champs and spoilers alike. American surf fans can feel pride in the fact that some of the brightest talent to make the tour in 2005 is from the U.S.A. Timmy Reyes, Fred Patacchia, and the unpredictable yet potentially dangerous Chris “Wardo Ward will all look to finish above the cut in their rookie years.

Last year was the best ever on the women’s tour. Aussie Layne Beachley started slowly, giving hope to the rest of the Top 17. Hawai’i’s Rochelle Ballard and Peruvian wondergirl Sofia Mulanovich battled it out for most of the year, putting on amazing performance after amazing performance, and in the end, Sofia triumphed. Her world title is the first ever (for a man or a woman) to be awarded to a South American. Think she partied when she got home? Chelsea Georgeson and Keala Kennelly are also potential candidates for a title, so look for a tightly contested race.

New tour stops have been added, too. The men will surf Réunion Island in the summer, and the women will return to Newquay, England. To get ready for the madness, we profiled each surfer on tour (top 45 men and top 17 women) and got some tour pros to comment on each competitor.

The first event is March 2, 2005 on the Gold Coast. Let the games begin.–J.P.

The Men

1. Andy Irons
Nickname: A.I.
Place of birth: Kaua’i, Hawai’i, U.S.A.
Current residence: Kaua’i, Hawai’i, U.S.A.
D.O.B.: July 24, 1978
Height: 6’0
Weight: 170 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 10
Highest rating: 1 (2002, 2003, 2004)
2004 results: 2,3,3,2,1,5,33,1,3,9,17
2004/Career winnings: $190,925/$868,033

Sunny: “I’m tired of blowing smoke up Andy’s ass (laughs). No, he’s the man, and I love to see him winning.

C.J.: “The one and only dominator. Definitely the best all-around surfer for the last couple of years. Also, he hates to lose more than anyone on tour.

Paulo: “The champion will continue to be the best, but I believe this year he’ll have more surfers fighting him for the title.

2. Joel Parkinson
Nickname: Parko
Place of birth: Queensland, Australia
Current residence: Queensland, Australia
D.O.B.: April 10, 1981
Height: 6’0
Weight: 170 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 8
Highest rating: 2 (2002, 2004)
2004 results: 9,1,inj,inj,9,2,1,9,3,17,33
2004/Career winnings: $115,625/$469,425

Sunny: “An incredible surfer. He was sidetracked a bit last year with the birth of his kid, but that’s understandable. He’s young, and he’s got lots of time, and I expect him to really go at it next year and challenge Andy for a title.

C.J.: “Be afraid … very afraid. The only surfer to beat Andy more than once. He gave Andy a run and still missed two contests. This dude is so confident he can beat some guys beforeven paddling out.

Paulo: “After the birth of his daughter he’ll be going strong for the title. Good sponsor support will make for a great year for Parko.

3. Kelly Slater
Nickname: Slats
Place of birth: Florida, U.S.A.
Current residence: unknown
D.O.B.: February 11, 1972
Height: 5’9
Weight: 160 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 14
Highest rating: 1 (1992, 1994—98)
2004 results: 5,5,3,17,5,5,2,3,17,5,7
2004/Career winnings: $122,350/$1,136,005

Sunny: “For the first time in his career, he understood what it’s like to want something and not get it. He’s not getting any younger, and the competition isn’t getting any easier.

C.J.: “I thought for sure he would win a WCT, but things didn’t really go his way this year. He’s still the best, and when it starts going his way again, watch out.

Paulo: “Forever the king. He’ll need more motivation to get back his crown, which won’t be easy, but not too hard–we’re talking about the best!

4. C.J. Hobgood
Nickname: Ceej
Place of birth: Florida, U.S.A.
Current residence: Satellite Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
D.O.B.: July 6, 1979
Height: 5’8
Weight: 150 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 9
Highest rating: 1 (2001)
2004 results: 9,33,1,3,17,1,5,17,17,17,13
2004/Career winnings: $118,300/$492,258

Sunny: “He made a great run last year, but it seems like the wheels fell off when Andy got so far ahead. He’s a great surfer.

Paulo: “After his injury, C.J. will be back stronger than ever. He’s hard to beat in any conditions and will always be in the running for a title.

5. Luke Egan
Nickname: Louie
Place of birth: New South Wales, Australia
Current residence: Gold Coast, Queensland
D.O.B.: January 24, 1969
Height: 5’11
Weight: 190 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 20
Highest rating: 2 (2000)
2004 results: 17,9,5,5,33,9,3,17,1,17,13
2004/Career winnings: $87,175/$768,770

Sunny: “We’ve been on tour together for twenty years now. In my eyes, he should have won a world title. He hasn’t slowed a bit.

C.J.: “This dude just loves to surf, and it shows. He spent more time in Indo last year than anyone, and he also picked up his captain’s license–very smart. There’s no substitute for power and clean surfing, and this cat can do all the tricks, too.

6. Taj Burrow
Nickname: TB
Place of birth: Busselton, Western Australia
Current residence: Yallingup, Western Australia
D.O.B.: June 2, 1978
Height: 5’8
Weight: 145 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 9
Highest rating: 2 (1999)
2004 results: 9,2,17,33,17,17,9,9,5,1,33
2004/Career winnings: $111,775/$633,197

Sunny: “Great talent, but maybe lacking a little drive. A lot of people can say they want things, but I haven’t seen the desire from Taj.

C.J.: “This dude’s winning percentage is crazy good in Brazil. He just needs to put it together all year long. Sometimes his heart is in other projects, like making the best surf vids in the biz. So when he loses, maybe it doesn’t affect him as much as it should–but everyone knows his surfing is off the hook.

Paulo: “The fastest and most creative surfer on the tour. He’ll be stronger after his win in Brazil, but he’ll have to do better in heavy conditions to make a run for the title.

7. Nathan Hedge
Nickname: Hog
Place of birth: Queensland, Australia
Current residence: Narrabeen, Australia
D.O.B.: May 28, 1979
Height: 5’7
Weight: 155 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 8
Highest rating: 7 (2004)
2004 results: 17,9,2,inj,2,17,5,9,17,5,inj
2004/Career winnings: $77,975/$281,800

Sunny: “Had an incredible run last year and would have done better without the shoulder injury–especially at Pipe. Definitely stepped up his game in the last couple years.

C.J.: “The hungriest man on tour this year. He’s always pumped up. Such a good guy and good to hang with ’cause he’ll get you pumped, too. Surfed amazing in Tahiti and J-Bay. Missed Tavi and Pipe and still had a breakout year. Coming off shoulder surgery will give him extra motivation so watch out.

8. Sunny Garcia
Place of birth: Hawai’i, U.S.A.
Current residence: North Shore, O’ahu
D.O.B.: January 14, 1970
Height: 5’10
Weight: 200 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 19
Highest rating: 1 (2000)2004/Career winnings: $93,975/$1,027,105

Sunny: “Me? I’m just having fun. I’m 35 and still kicking top-sixteen ass.

C.J.: “Had a lot to prove this year, not only to himself but to everyone else. I can feel his pain coming off a major injury. He wanted to shut everyone up, and he did. You can’t match his power when the waves get good, especially at J-Bay and France.

9. Damien Hobgood
Nickname: Damo
Place of birth: Florida, U.S.A.
Current residence: Satellite Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
D.O.B.: July 6, 1979
Height: 5’8
Weight: 150 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 9
Highest rating: 9 (2004)
2004 results: 17,33,5,1,17,5,17,33,5,inj,inj
2004/Career winnings: $85,675/$390,650

Sunny: “He finally won his first event. It’s good to see him get out of the shadow of his brother. I think Damien will do a lot better now that he’s got a good season under his belt.

C.J.: “Kook who gets over-scored. Besides that, he had the best final I’ve ever seen against Andy. He also missed a couple of contests and still had a breakout year. Also, he’s coming off shoulder surgery, so he should be wanting to prove himself. I’m sure he wants to beat me, ’cause after I smoked him in Japan he wouldn’t talk to me for a week.

Paulo: “Last year Damien got stronger and more focused. If he begins to believe in himself more, he’ll be a hard surfer to beat.

10. Peterson Rosa
Nickname: The Animal
Place of birth: São Paolo, Brazil
Current residence: Florianopolis, Brazil
D.O.B.: September 19, 1974
Height: 5’6
Weight: 150 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 15
Highest rating: 7 (2001)
2004 results: 9,33,9,17,9,33,9,5,5,5,17
2004/Career winnings: $77,150/$629,647

Sunny: “He’s definitely one of the hungriest surfers on the tour. Never count that guy out.

C.J.: “One of the best backhand barrel riders on tour. He always surprises people, and he’s very determined.

Paulo: “My good friend Peter had a great year and will be even stronger this year. A real Brazilian surfer who pushes the team. He’ll always be hard to beat in any conditions.

11. Jake Paterson
Nickname: The Snake
Place of birth: Cottesloe, Western Australia
Current residence: Yallingup, Western Australia
D.O.B.: January 9, 1973
Height: 5’7
Weight: 163 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 15
Highest rating: 5 (2000, 2001)
2004 results: 5,9,33,9,3,9,9,33,17,33,17
2004/Career winnings: $64,400/$630,845

Sunny: “A great competitor, but every year it gets harder and harder, and the competition gets better and better, so …

Paulo: “Hard to beat in any conditions. If he gets more focused, he’ll be at the top, for sure.

12. Mark Occhilupo
Nickname: Occy
Place of birth: Sydney, Australia
Current residence: Queensland, Australia
D.O.B.: June 16, 1966
Height: 5’9
Weight: 195 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 22
Highest rating: 1 (1999)
2004 results: 5,5,9,5,9,17,17,33,33,13
2004/Career winnings: $63,450/$884,138

Sunny: “Occy’s just an inspiration to everybody. How old is he? 38? 39? He’s still doing good.

C.J.: “Forget Pat-O, Occy’s the nicest guy on tour. His surfing is timeless. I hope he’s kicking butt well into his fifties. You can never get enough of Occy, especially at Bells, J-Bay, or Pipe–okay, everywhere.

Paulo: “Occy will always be a goofy-foot’s idol. With a good spring and motivation, he’ll be back on top.
13. Michael Lowe
Nickname: Lowey
Place of birth: Wollongong, Australia
Current residence: Port Kembla, Australia
D.O.B.: April 26, 1977
Height: 5’9
Weight: 180 lbs.
Stance: Gool had a breakout year. Coming off shoulder surgery will give him extra motivation so watch out.

8. Sunny Garcia
Place of birth: Hawai’i, U.S.A.
Current residence: North Shore, O’ahu
D.O.B.: January 14, 1970
Height: 5’10
Weight: 200 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 19
Highest rating: 1 (2000)2004/Career winnings: $93,975/$1,027,105

Sunny: “Me? I’m just having fun. I’m 35 and still kicking top-sixteen ass.

C.J.: “Had a lot to prove this year, not only to himself but to everyone else. I can feel his pain coming off a major injury. He wanted to shut everyone up, and he did. You can’t match his power when the waves get good, especially at J-Bay and France.

9. Damien Hobgood
Nickname: Damo
Place of birth: Florida, U.S.A.
Current residence: Satellite Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
D.O.B.: July 6, 1979
Height: 5’8
Weight: 150 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 9
Highest rating: 9 (2004)
2004 results: 17,33,5,1,17,5,17,33,5,inj,inj
2004/Career winnings: $85,675/$390,650

Sunny: “He finally won his first event. It’s good to see him get out of the shadow of his brother. I think Damien will do a lot better now that he’s got a good season under his belt.

C.J.: “Kook who gets over-scored. Besides that, he had the best final I’ve ever seen against Andy. He also missed a couple of contests and still had a breakout year. Also, he’s coming off shoulder surgery, so he should be wanting to prove himself. I’m sure he wants to beat me, ’cause after I smoked him in Japan he wouldn’t talk to me for a week.

Paulo: “Last year Damien got stronger and more focused. If he begins to believe in himself more, he’ll be a hard surfer to beat.

10. Peterson Rosa
Nickname: The Animal
Place of birth: São Paolo, Brazil
Current residence: Florianopolis, Brazil
D.O.B.: September 19, 1974
Height: 5’6
Weight: 150 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 15
Highest rating: 7 (2001)
2004 results: 9,33,9,17,9,33,9,5,5,5,17
2004/Career winnings: $77,150/$629,647

Sunny: “He’s definitely one of the hungriest surfers on the tour. Never count that guy out.

C.J.: “One of the best backhand barrel riders on tour. He always surprises people, and he’s very determined.

Paulo: “My good friend Peter had a great year and will be even stronger this year. A real Brazilian surfer who pushes the team. He’ll always be hard to beat in any conditions.

11. Jake Paterson
Nickname: The Snake
Place of birth: Cottesloe, Western Australia
Current residence: Yallingup, Western Australia
D.O.B.: January 9, 1973
Height: 5’7
Weight: 163 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 15
Highest rating: 5 (2000, 2001)
2004 results: 5,9,33,9,3,9,9,33,17,33,17
2004/Career winnings: $64,400/$630,845

Sunny: “A great competitor, but every year it gets harder and harder, and the competition gets better and better, so …

Paulo: “Hard to beat in any conditions. If he gets more focused, he’ll be at the top, for sure.

12. Mark Occhilupo
Nickname: Occy
Place of birth: Sydney, Australia
Current residence: Queensland, Australia
D.O.B.: June 16, 1966
Height: 5’9
Weight: 195 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 22
Highest rating: 1 (1999)
2004 results: 5,5,9,5,9,17,17,33,33,13
2004/Career winnings: $63,450/$884,138

Sunny: “Occy’s just an inspiration to everybody. How old is he? 38? 39? He’s still doing good.

C.J.: “Forget Pat-O, Occy’s the nicest guy on tour. His surfing is timeless. I hope he’s kicking butt well into his fifties. You can never get enough of Occy, especially at Bells, J-Bay, or Pipe–okay, everywhere.

Paulo: “Occy will always be a goofy-foot’s idol. With a good spring and motivation, he’ll be back on top.
13. Michael Lowe
Nickname: Lowey
Place of birth: Wollongong, Australia
Current residence: Port Kembla, Australia
D.O.B.: April 26, 1977
Height: 5’9
Weight: 180 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 12
Highest rating: 6 (2002)
2004 results: 1,17,33,33,5,17,33,5,17,17,33
2004/Career winnings: $80,000/$483,920

Sunny: “Mick’s one of my favorite surfers and a great guy. Us big guys gotta stick together against those little guys doing their little chop-hops and tailslides.

C.J.: “Keg on legs. A classic dude. Actually had an average year according to his standards. Besides absolutely ruling Snapper, he kinda struggled in events that he can normally win. I’m good friends with him, and he’s also a fast reader–he finishes thick books.

14. Cory Lopez
Nickname: Lopey
Place of birth: Florida, U.S.A.
Current residence: Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
D.O.B.: March 21, 1977
Height: 5’10
Weight: 155 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 13
Highest rating: 3 (2001)
2004 results: 33,33,33,9,17,9,3,33,9,9,5
2004/Career winnings: $75,925/$514,260

Sunny: “I think he just had a bad year last year. Maybe traveling with Andy stole some of his mojo. He’s a great all-around surfer and should do better next year.

C.J.: “Had a complete shocker the first four contests of 2004. But it was insane to see him suck it up and fight back the rest of the year. Everyone started to rally behind him. Lopey spent a lot of time away from home last year, so it was amazing to see how high he finished, despite the slow start. His bro Shea will be back on tour to kick his butt when he’s slacking. So Cory should be pumped for next year.

15. Kalani Robb
Nickname: K-Rock
Place of birth: Hawai’i, U.S.A.
Current residence: Hale’iwa, Hawai’i, U.S.A.
D.O.B.: February 2, 1977
Height: 5’9
Weight: 155 lbs.
Stance: Goofy
Years rated: 13
Highest rating: 5 (2001)
2004 results: 17,33,17,33,17,3,17,33,9,17,3
2004/Career winnings: $65,375/$566,222

Sunny: “I’ve always said that when he got his act together he’d be very dangerous. We’re still just waiting for him to get an act.

C.J.: “When his back is against the wall, this kid always comes through. He needed to pull a result to secure his WCT spot, and he goes and gets second at Pipe. I saw him do the exact same thing at Sunset a few years ago. Besides that, I can never really figure out what’s going on in Kalani’s head, but when he puts his mind to it, he can achieve anything.

16. Danny Wills
Nickname: Willsy
Place of birth: Byron Bay, Australia
Current residence: Byron Bay, Australia
D.O.B.: September 30, 1975
Height: 5’6
Weight: 146 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 12
Highest rating: 3 (1998)
2004 results: 17,9,5,17,17,9,5,17,9,inj,33
2004/Career winnings: $51,300/$458,685

Sunny: “One of the smoothest surfers on the tour. He’s got one of the best roundhouse cutbacks I’ve ever seen.

C.J.: “The family man. Everyone is just now having kids on the tour, and Danny’s kids are about to start driving! He has one of the best styles on tour. He just surfs and kinda lets things fall how they may.

Paulo: “A really solid and strong competitor. Danny always surfs beautifully, and you never know what he’ll come up with.

17. Phil MacDonald
Nickname: Macca
Place of birth: Canberra, Australia
Current residence: Tomakin, Australia
D.O.B.: March 4, 1979
Height: 5’9
Weight: 176 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 8
Highest rating: 13 (2003)
2004 results: 17,33,17,17,17,9,33,9,2,17,13
2004/Career winnings: $88,725/$285,675

Sunny: “Phil MacDonald is my favorite surfer on the tour. I think this kid rips. If you had to ask me what a great surfer was, I’d say Phillip MacDonald–and I think that says enough.

Paulo: “Heavy Macca is a great surfer and proved he can beat anybody in any conditions.

18. Dean Morrison
Nickname: Dingo
Place of birth: Tweed Heads, Australia
Current residence: Coolangatta, Australia
D.O.B.: December 22, 1980
Height: 5’6
Weight: 143 lbs.
Stance: Regular
Years rated: 8
Highest rating: 10 (2003)
2004 results: 9,17,17,5,9,