A new grand-slam format. Last year for Margs. John John to own the first half.
Tour fever. It’s practically in the air!
But you won’t be getting any taste of the high life until mid-March when the tour’s first of 11 events unskirts at Snapper Rocks. What’s that give us? Almost six weeks of dead time to beat our tambourines.
Here’s what’s going to be gradually unwrapped over the course of 2017.
- Filipe Toledo will surprise no one and win Snapper: I’m hardly back out on a limb if I posit that Filipe is unbeatable at Snapper. Three years ago, he secreted his hot civet musk all over the little rights, rewriting how fast, high, and tight, a man could surf. If he didn’t blow his hip out in his semi-final with Matt Wilkinson last year, he would’ve won the event, surfed at Bells and Margarets, and taken the title down to Pipe. Pointedly, the Wilko-for-world-champ narrative would never have been written.
- It’ll be the last year the tour will open with Snapper, Margaret River, Bells, Rio: The world’s best surfers in the world’s, uh, not best, but pretty good, wait, used to be desirable, waves. In the upcoming super rationalisation of the tour, Margarets will disappear and Bells will hang by a thread.
- Kelly Slater will surprise: There’ll be no experimentation with boards in heats. The turns will be more ornate. The old aristocrat, in his final orbit of the tour, will shine. A thank-you note to a life that’s served him well.
- John John will swing out of the first half with a ten-thousand point lead: Now he gets it. Those outrageously clean pocket-turns score. The world champion knows he can sleepwalk through to the quarters, dressing up the harder heats with jumps when necessary. Third, First, Third, Second. And then? Fiji, Tahiti, Europe.
- The rookies will live up expectations: In other words, be completely overwhelmed by the superiority of the incumbent surfers.
- A new grand slam format will be floated: It ain’t a secret that the WSL’s four-day events (seven days if it’s a guy-gal combo) are too cumbersome to succeed in getting the kick the WSL wants. Even the most consistent wave in the world isn’t going to gift a week of good surf, and through all the tides. What’ll be kicked around is a grand-slam format where the top eight surfers in the world are flown into a pumping swell. If it happens it’ll redefine the game.