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Photo courtesy of DHD Surfboards
Now that the Triple Crown has wrapped, and the always entertaining Volcom Pipe Pro proved to be one of the best contests in surfing history, we are all sitting waiting in giddy anticipation for the kick off of the 2016 CT. Luckily for surf fans, the start of the season is just around the corner as the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast waiting period starts on March 10th.
2015 was one of the most entertaining, bizarre, and frightening seasons in a long time. Mick Fanning was hit by a great white on live broadcast, Kelly wasn’t in the top 5, and Pipe broke off two of the world’s best, leaving Bede Durbidge in a wheelchair (heal fast, brother.)
While 2015 was full of thrills and spills, 2016 is mounting to be an epic season with refocused legends, talented rookies, and The Brazilian Storm looking to take over the world. Our guess is as good as yours with what might happen during this year's tour, but here are five things we think will make for good watching once the world's best descend on the Gold Coast.
1. King Kelly’s Confidence
Photos courtesy of Kelly Slater
Whoa, the King is back and in fine form, Slater looked like a man on fire at this year’s Volcom Pipe Pro winning his first contest since 2014. Kelly’s recent run of less than stellar results have left most surf fans scratching their heads, as we have become so accustomed to watching Kelly win, that it almost seems like a bad dream when he’s not on top. However, we may have a refired-up Slater on our hands as he took down a talented field of Tour surfers and Pipe specialists to grab victory at the legendary Bonzai. Kelly was a busy man in 2015 launching a clothing line and a surfboard brand, and creating the world’s best artificial wave; maybe 2016 will be the season that the King refocuses on the crown.
2. The Storm Continues
Photo courtesy of CI surfboards
While many surf fans are openly disgruntled about the Brazilian barrage that has taken over in recent years, we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. There are new Brazilians qualifying every year and the last two world champs have been from Brazil. While many surf fans have been vocal about their dismay over the style and big wave capabilities of the Brazilians, no one can question their competitive spirit, and with Medina winning contests in macking surf and Felipe Toledo slaying everything under head high with ease, it could be the year of the Brazilians once again.
3. Surfboard Technology
Every year there is speculation over what surfboard technology might show up on tour, and most of the time the changes are either quick to fade fads or minor tweaks. This year could be different though as everyone from DHD to Lost Surfboards seems to be releasing new tech. Kelly who always has the most creative quiver on tour obviously has his new line of surfboards, but recently DHD released their new Epoxicore, which has Jack Freestone, Mick, and Stephanie Gilmore singing its praises, while Lost Surfboards, the tours most popular stick manufacturer, just released their carbon wrap. While only time will tell if any new board tech is under the feet of the next world champ, between Slater, Lost, and DHD the odds are pretty good.
Photo courtesy of DHD Surfboards
4. Fanning Will Fire
Some people say Fanning’s surfing is boring, but those people don’t understand power surfing. Fanning, while calculated, is silky smooth and as powerful as anyone on tour. Fanning looked set to clinch the world title last year, but was rocked by a number of personal and public setbacks in 2015. Even with all of the chaos, Fanning ended up in the 2nd place slot, so we can only imagine that once he has a chance to focus solely on surfing he will be hard to beat. The big question will be whether or not Fanning surfs J-Bay, as the right hand point break is the perfect canvas for Fanning's power carves, but after his terrifying shark encounter at last year’s event, no one will blame Fanning if he decides to play spectator at the sharky South African break.
5. Dane Will Still Be The Most Relevant Wildcard
Everytime Dane got a wildcard into an event the internet erupted with moans and cheers. Whether or not you're a fan of Dane, he is the most electric wildcard on the planet, and every time he is in a heat surf fans tune in to see if he we will be on fire or just float around in the lineup. Reynolds only surfed four events and ended up number 37th on the tour rankings, which clearly means that he could qualify in a heartbeat if he so desired. Dane is one of the best surfers on the planet and certainly the kind of exciting wildcard the WSL lives for.