Have you been paying attention to the surf contests that have been going down on tour of late? Heaving French pits, flawless Lowers, and a World Title race that is far from being in the bag for anyone. Just when you thought the script had been written for Kelly's 10th, Mick comes in and says, 'this thing ain't over yet.'
The tour is now on the move in Europe—having dropped Mundaka and added Supertubos. After last year's performance, Supertubos is looking to show why it was added and Mundaka dropped. Hopefully more cavernous pits will be on tap for the world's best to go for broke.
Another mover is Mick. After all the talk and speculation that Kelly's mind tricks ate him up at Trestles (which they may have) people were ready to throw in the Mick towel, saying his psyche was far too fragile. But lest we forget Mick is a two-time World Champ and heading into one of his favorite legs on tour. He knows World Titles are won in the second half of the season—in both his World Title years (2007 and 2009) Mick won at least two of the five final contests. And taking his second consecutive Quiksilver Pro France was a good catapult up the ratings—going from fifth to third and within striking distance of Kelly.
But Kelly also extended his lead in France, adding 2,000-points-and-change to the next closest, Jordy Smith. Kelly dropped the only 10 of the contest but just couldn't find the waves Mick did in the final. Jordy also had the same problem against Mick, only they met in the quarters. Continuous quarters results (5ths) for Jordy are just not going to cut it if he wants this title, because you know both Mick and Kelly aren't going to just roll over. After Taj Burrow got eliminated at the Hurley Lowers Pro this year by Dane in the quarters, he had this to say while recognizing another potential World Title might be slipping away, "You've got to make semis or better to be in a World Title race." Jordy will need to do this if he's really a contender.
And speaking of the youth, did you see Owen Wright break three boards against Dan Ross in one heat? The kid was just going for it—like he did last year in Portugal when he beat Dane and Kelly then perforated his eardrum against Damien Hobgood (and still beat him) then had to sit out his semis match-up with Mick. Mick counted himself lucky I reckon and went on to win the event (and the World Title).
Portugal is going to play a very crucial role to things before heading to the island of Puerto Rico. Remember last year when Mick extended his newly found lead on Parko in Portugal? The fact is both Mick and Jordy are chasing Kelly, and it's not a question of whether they could catch him, it's more a question of will they.—Ryan Brower
The Rip Curl Pro Portugal gets underway October 7th and could run till October 18th. Stay tuned to transworldsurf.com for full coverage and watch the event live at live.ripcurl.com/?Portugal2010.
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Check out our FASL picks below and get your team picked today. And who you got on your FASL team? Are our picks whack or on track?
Chris Cote, Editor In Chief
Winner: Jordy will get back to his winning ways and put some pressure on Slater. Even though they are both pricey, it's a good bet to keep them both on your Fantasy Action Sports League surf teams—they always pay back what they're worth.
Best Rookie Performance: Brett Simpson has been gaining confidence and will continue to do so in Portugal.
Shocker: Tiago Pires will beat Slater, get carried up the beach in tears, he will be hoisted up onto the scaffolding and draped in a Portuguese flag—then everybody will realize it's still the first round. It won't be shocking, but he will make at least the semis.
Casey Koteen, Managing Editor
Winner: Slater. The champ is smelling blood. Plus it looks like he's not riding any more of those weird boards. And when it comes to wave selection, and air-drop-to-barrel combos, Slater's got the edge.
Best Rookie Performance: Owen owned this event last year until he got busted up. This year he'll do the same, sans the smashed ear drum.
Shocker: Someone will trade Bruce Irons their wildcard, and the world's best tuberider will win the event in throating barrels.
Aaron Checkwood, Photo Editor
Winner: Owen Wright. Owey's a punchy beach break connoisseur and his work last year makes him a prime pick for this event.
Best Rookie Performance: Owen.
Shocker: I like the idea of a random final with someone like Dan Ross or Wilko taking on Owen in the final. These waves seem an ideal place for something like this to happen which makes getting the cheaper costing FASL in the back of the ratings all the more important.
Justin Cote, Online Editor
Winner: Tiago Pires is gonna go all Brett Simpson and win on his home turf.
Best Rookie Performance: Owen Wright is the easy pick…kid is on fire!
Shocker: What’s going on with Bobby Martinez?
Ryan Brower, Edit Assistant
Winner: After Owen Wright's performance in France, and last year in Portugal, I'm saying this is when the kid gets his first big win.
Best Rookie Performance: Owen, duh. I have a feeling Simpo will do well again, too.
Shocker: Kelly will only make the quarters and Mick and Jordy will both be in the semis (one of them will be in the final with Owen). World Title Race is still wide open after Portugal!
Jeff Baldwin, Sales Turkey
Winner: Dane Reynolds is going to creep up on everyone and beat Taj (another sleeper) in the final.
Best Rookie Performance: Owen Wright will rise to the top. Hopefully he gets his boards glassed heavier so they don't all break.
Shocker: Port Wine seduces the competitors and one of them misses his heat.