Whether or not competitive surfing is your thing and also if you're prepared to sift through some of the more shallow aspects of it, the World Tour does have something to offer you. The first five events are, Snapper and Bells beach in Oz, Santa Catarina in Brazil, Jeffrey's Bay R.S.A and the beast that is Teahupoo in Tahiti that alone has me glued to the action.......... (God will someone please send me to the South Pacific and J Bay immediately..........well its not going to happen until 8pm today when my lottery ticket will enlighten me, failing that I will have to live vicariously through the webcastes for now).
Times have changed too, not everyone is copying Tom Curren and Kelly Slater anymore. Last season Dane Reynolds took out a twin fin (called a "Robber" made by Al Merrick) in fat French beach breaks and won his heat with panache, yes I stand by that panache, it was as refreshing as a cup of tea. Wild Card Owen Wright took down everyone in Peniche till he burst his ear drum in a heavy Supertubos closeout. Yet my favourite moment of last season was when meek mannered Basque boy Aritz Aramburu got to the Semi Final's at Teahupoo taking down Slater with him. Humble, talented, fearless he barely won another heat in the whole season, but he will always have that event in his heart.
There is another reason why Aritz's day of days stands alone for me. Quite simply I love the rise of European surfing on the World Stage. Sadly that doesn't include England but that is another issue all together.
The season on tour sees the return of "Saca" Tiago Pires who hails from the lovely Portuguese town of Ericeira blessed with breaks such as Coxos, Cave and Ribeira d'Ilhas, he knows what he's doing and this season after re qualifying last season he'll spill some Seppo (septic tank = yank), Ozzie and Brazilian blood.
But I have always loved to watch Jeremy Flores surf. Now whether a man who was born in Madagascar, spends half the year in Reunion and New Caledonia, can even call himself a Euro is dubious. However the great thing about our beloved Union is that we're pretty open minded and the guy does have a post box in Capbreton, so he's in in my book. Last season he was injured mid season and still requalified at a canter. He was tipped by the Bald One himself for greatness as a kid and seems to have been around for ages but has only just got his first hair on his chest. This man is my call for 2010 World Champ, and I reckon I'd get good odds on it, keep an eye out for him. Definitely not one to put your mortgage on but what fun would life be if we didn't shoot from the hip sometimes.