ASP Addict Breaks It Down

Dream Tour hits mid-season: Here's where we're at

This time last year, the boys had wrapped up competition in Fiji and were on their way to South Africa. On this year's version of Dream Tour, the Fiji competition was pulled, with Brazil promoted to the end of June. The corporate types cited easier travel and a better Southern Hemi swell, but I can't help but wonder how much the usual poor turnout (and last year's Santa Catarina Pro in particular) played into the decision to move the event to the front half of the season. Last year, Kelly Slater had already sewn up his ninth world title prior to the Brazilian leg, which took place last November, rendering the event kinda "meh", despite the beautiful women and weather. (I, for one, still would have gone for that reason alone.)

This year's attendance — including the victor, Kelly Slater — proved that the top seeds deemed Brazil worthy of their presence. Going into Brazil, the big showdown was an Aussie affair, between Joel Parkinson, Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning. But now, the 2009 ASP World Tour title race has gone more international, and more interesting.

Getty Images, ASP — Scholtz

A contender, a champ, a legend, a freak, and a guy in a scarf.

Parko is still waving the Australian flag at the head of the pack, and continues to lead by a comfortable margin. That said, with six events left to go, he's only one bad result away from losing his lead. Adriano de Souza has moved up to number two with his impressive second runner-up finish, this time in front of a fanatical home crowd. Florida's CJ Hobgood has climbed to number three, desperate to have people forget the asterisk next to his 2001 ASP World Title. Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning posted strong results in Brazil, but not strong enough to keep them from sliding to fourth and fifth respectively.

Following a shaky start to the year, Slater has gone from reigning world champ to everyone's favorite underdog, the new dark horse, sitting at ninth place in the rankings following his win. Of all of the surfers on tour, Kelly Slater is more than capable of making up the necessary points needed to take a tenth world title by year end. And it'll be an interesting run to watch, that's for sure.

While the world's best are still explaining to their significant others the incoming text messages from Fabiana, Bruna and Mariana, the Dream Tour has already moved on, kicking off the fifth event of the season, the Billabong Pro at Jeffreys Bay this week.

Getty Images, ASP — Cestari

"Eeeew, what's that floating in the hot tub?"<br> "Oh, that's just me determination, bru."

The front running crew and especially Kelly Slater are clear favorites in South Africa, but keep an eye on Jordy Smith. He's been on an absolute tear lately on the World Tour and the WQS, and having come mere tenths of a point away from making the final at J-Bay as a teenage wildcard, it will be interesting to see what he's capable of as a very in-form sophomore.

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