For Slater, ‘12 in 2012' worth shouting about
Surf News, 14 January, 2012 : A constantly asked question in the surfing world these days is "will Kelly Slater go for World Championship number 12 in '12?" This remains to be determined as I understand it.
From what I have heard through the grapefruit vine is that Kelly will compete in the opening event of the new year in the Quiksilver Pro to be held on Australia's Gold Coast from Feb 25 and March 7. The feeling is that it's a "let's see what happens and then go from there" kinda situation.
An interesting side note to this is that the great one will turn 40 years old next month. too. The dude is breaking all kinds of new ground. My personal feeling is that I would like to see him go for one more. I mean, why not? How cool to be so talented that you can stay at the top into your 40s and be able to just be out there on the tour.
I still regret the fact that I retired from competitive surfing when I did. It seemed like the right thing to do at the moment, but later I knew I screwed up by not sticking around until I actually couldn't stick around any longer. I see guys doing the same thing these days and can't help but think that they will also live to wish they had taken advantage of that part of their lives while it was still on the table.
I was only a week past my 25th birthday when I walked away. I am just blown away that Kelly is looking at 40 and in the No. 1 seed position going into the new year. What's the harm of shooting for one more? None. Nobody is gonna think any the less of him if he doesn't win. With 11 World Titles and every other honor already under his belt, his place as the greatest surfer ever is solid. And if he does pull out one more...WOW.
I guess the other question most asked, at least as far as competitive surfing goes, is "who will be the next guy in the event that Kelly does walk away, or who will take it from him if he doesn't?"
There are a number of challengers for the title and most of them very young and hungry. One of my favorites would have been Dane Reynolds, but he is one of those aforementioned dudes who has chosen to take a different path than competition for his immediate future. I was disappointed to hear that.
Here are a few of the most likely to become the next World Champ in the event it's not Kelly Slater:
Owen Wright. This amazing 21-year-old Australian goofy foot was right there in the hunt through the end of the 2011 season. He showed that he has the talent to win in any and all types of conditions - big or small surf, frontside or backside. The dude is one of the most well-rounded surfers to come on the scene in years and it's almost inevitable that a World Title lies somewhere in his future.
Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow. These two Aussies are heading into their 30s and know that the talent level is rising below them. Joel is 30 and Taj 33. They finished the 2011 year ranked 2nd and 4th respectively, with Owen Wright at number 3. Their best shot is now.
Americans, other than Slater, with an outside shot at it would include Damien Hobgood and Huntington Beach's Brett Simpson. Also of note will be the development of the sensational young John John Florence from Hawaii's North Shore. With only five ASP events completed, the teenage wiz-kid finished the year ranked 34th with nowhere to go but up. A World Title in 2012 is a stretch, but down the line, look out.
Any way you look at it the world of professional competitive surfing has as much or more appeal to follow than ever before. And this year with the intrigue of the continuing saga of Kelly Slater, it is starting out to be great drama.
Some, such as myself, who can relate to the aging champ mystique, will be rooting on Kelly. Others will be looking for "the new guy," whoever that might be.
Either way, it's all on the table just waiting to unfold.
Source: Corky's Blog