The Quiksilver Pro Australia gets under way in earnest March 2, and after a short but intriguing offseason, it looks like things are going to pick up where they left off. The Quik Pro has proven in the past to be one of the most important contests of the year. The first event of the year always has that nervous feeling as competitors arrive on the Gold Coast with new boards, revived energy and fresh attitudes. Everyone is on their toes wondering what their fellow competitors have been doing during the off time and waiting to see who will come out of the gates firing. These days everyone puts on a good front to hide this nervous energy, and given the amount of undiluted, raw talent that is on the 2013 tour, I am positive that everyone is feeling a little anxious.
Snapper Rocks is an incredible wave, and makes for a great opening venue. It offers the surfers a chance to show off their entire repertoire. The take-off behind the rocks is treacherous with back wash and sharp reef sticking out of the water right in front of you. The wave is also very hollow allowing for some incredible tube rides and free falling wipeouts. Then as it works down the sand bar it backs off into one of the most high performance waves in the world, allowing for exciting maneuvers such as big carves, invert throw tails and huge airs. The unique beach terrain creates a natural amphitheater allowing spectators an up close view of their favorite surfer's and an incredible feel of excitement. The roars from the crowd echo through the empty lineup and the competitors in the water either feed off the energy with incredible performances or suffer from sensory overload and find themselves quickly packing their bags for the next event.
Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning have both won this event multiple times in the past and used the momentum to go on to win world titles. Taj Burrow, not so much. He's always been a stand out at Snapper, he's the defending champ, yet a title continues to allude him.
But to the point: Dane Reynolds. He has been confirmed as one of the wildcard entries into the event and it's a choice I'm sure the whole surfing world is very excited to see. Dane is undoubtedly one of the most progressive and exciting surfers on the planet, but his style of surfing fits Snapper Rocks like a glove. He had that unforgettable showing in 2010, but Burrow got him in round two last year. He's has already acknowledged that he will be surfing against the top seeds and seems to welcome the challenge.
"You definitely have to surf your best to even have a chance," said Dane. "Joel would definitely be a fun heat. I'd like to surf against Kelly too, that's always an experience."
Obviously everyone that has earned a spot on the tour has the potential to win the event, but here are definitely a few surfing talents that seem to really fit the wave at Snapper. Aside from the usual suspects, Slater, Parko, Fanning, Burrow, and I guess we have to add John John Florence to that list, who will rise up on the Goldy.
The first person that comes to my mind is Sebastian Zietz. "Sea Bass" has truly earned his way onto the tour. After six grueling years on the WQS he has arrived onto the ASP WT tour by winning the 2012 Haleiwa Reef Hawaiian Pro and the 2012 Vans Triple Crown. He will be coming into this event ready to take his explosive and progressive act straight to the top. He has already shown incredible grace under pressure and I have personally seen him tear the bags out of Snapper on multiple free surfs. He has the technique, repertoire and mindset to win the entire event. If I was a fantasy surfer advocate I would have Zietz on my team for sure.
I also see a good possibility of stand-out performances from Kolohe Andino, Matt Wilkinson, Ace Buchan, Josh Kerr, Gabriel Medina, Nat Young, Alejo Muniz and Felipe Toledo. This year's event is promised to offer up some of the best surfing in the world and I can't wait to see what unfolds as the 2013 ASP WT tour gets under way.