OUT THE BACK

posted by / Magazine / March 5, 2003

There’s an old cliche: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”

Easy to say, but where haven’t we been the past 12 months? From the highest highs –Aussie buster Andy Irons, the first to touch Slater’s ’95 North Shore domination — to the lowest lows — October 12′s terrorist attacks plunged Bali through all nine planes of Hell — 2002 took surfing to places we’d never dreamed of, making any claim not just bold, but brazen. But we’re no April fools. Even when we fumble the crystal ball, each of our visions — – whether it’s the next technological tidal wave or Tinseltown catastrophe — is always founded on some definable trend with true effects for the future. So which all-time tubes, talents and potential frontiers will surely define 2003? We’ll just have to see. In the meantime, we’ll push our luck with the following 13 predictions. They may not be foolproof, but they are guaranteed to have the best grasp on where surfing’s been, and, most importantly, where it’s going.

MOST LIKELY TO STEAL ANDY IRONS’ CROWN: KELLY SLATER

The most dangerous surfer on tour. Think about it. By his own admission, Kelly was half-there for most of 2002, yet finished ninth, a better ranking than the majority of pro surfers ever achieve in their lifespans. Repeatedly he showed his deadly grasp of heat strategy, his ability to psychologically master opponents, and his horrendous, pure surfing skill. Repeatedly . . .yet never consistently. (He won a lot of heats; but 2002 was the first year Kelly’s competed as a seed and not won a single event.) If you’re one of the Slater True Believers who felt sure he’d pull off a first-year slam dunk comeback, well, blind faith is nice and all, but given the current WCT talent level, even the greatest surfer needs time. Time to check the new faces, time to feel the judging panel’s needs, time to re-work equipment needs. Most of all, time to be sure in his own heart that it’s worth the insane stretch of willing a world title into being. Kelly had fun in 2002, but he did something less than {{{100}}} percent, and Surfing’s sense is that he didn’t like it. And a 100-percent Slater effort in 2003 can have only one result.

RUNNER-UP: MICK “RUBBER BAND” FANNING. He can outlast ‘em all in the final stretch.

LONGSHOT: DAMIEN HOBGOOD. It’s about time a pair of twins conquered the world.

[For the rest of our Bold Predictions, check out the April Issue of SURFING -- on newsstands now.]

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