crystal-ball_Surfer

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever," said the ever optimistic George Orwell.

Perhaps that’s why it’s better to turn to one of the great seers of the 20th century, Jon Bon Jovi, who said, "Map out your future - but do it in pencil. The road ahead us as long as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip."

So, we decided to take JBJ’s advice and peer into surfing’s crystal ball to see what 2015 has in store...

P Alex Laurel

In 2015, someone will ride a 100 foot wave, and that wave will be ridden at Nazaré.

While the Portuguese big-wave spot has some detractors in terms of the shape of the wave, there is no doubt that it offers the most consistent, tallest, rideable waves on the planet.

The last session in December 2014 saw a range of new benchmarks set with Benjamin Sanchis arguably riding the biggest wave ever seen there.

That day saw a committed group of seven or eight teams, each with two jet skis, and surfers like Hugo Vao, Tom Butler, Sebastian Stuednter, Garrett McNamara and Ross Clarke-Jones pushing Nazaré's endless boundaries.

“That session was in the top three for sheer size at Nazaré," said UK’s big-wave charger Andrew Cotton, “but it can handle much, much bigger."

As these surfers become increasingly familiar with the wave and safety technology improves, it’s a matter of when, not if, a 100 foot wave will be ridden there.

Greg Long being resuced by DK Walsh (middle) and Frank Quiarte (right) after a horrible wipeout and subsequent 3 wave hold down at Cortes Bank in December.
Greg Long being resuced by DK Walsh (middle) and Frank Quiarte (right) after a horrible wipeout and subsequent 3 wave hold down at Cortes Bank in December.

“I looked at the wave coming towards me and I thought I was going to die," Benjamin Sanchis told Mpora about his near death encounter at Nazaré last month.

Through a combination of good fortune and good jetski driving by his partner Eric Rebiere, he survived, but only just. In 2015 another surfer might not be so lucky.

The increased big wave safety technology such as flotation vests and better jet ski assist techniques is somewhat of a double-edged sword.

The inflatable jackets undeniably make the sport safer, but it has also led to the elite big wave surfers to push harder than ever before.

A massive swell at Mavericks just before Christmas saw Australian surfer Jamie Mitchell paddle into the biggest wave ever at the Californian big-wave spot, and then suffer the biggest ever lip to the head.

Jamie survived, but at some time in 2015, sadly, one surfer’s luck will run out.

Alana blanchard Maxim.com

Whether this is a positive or negative depends on your viewpoint.

In 2014 Alana failed to win a single heat on the WCT. So in 2015, she will concentrate more on her free surfing.

In a recent Instagram post, she said that this year she will be surfing more in warm water. She’s already posted GoPro clips from Mexico and the Gold Coast. There hasn’t been a scrap of wetsuit in sight.

Of course, with her Rip Curl contract (inclusive of her bikini royalties) estimated to be around €500,000 per year, that makes both financial and surfing sense.

I’ll leave it to you to decide what you’d rather see: Alana losing heats in full wetsuits in three foot wind chop in Portugal, or her bottom turning in a bikini in Barbados.

Gabriel-Medina-John-John-Florence-Rivalry P ESPN johnjohn-florence.com

It was only due to injury and a poor start to the season that meant John John Florence wasn’t in last year’s world title race.

In 2015 he will start fresh and hungry. There will be only one surfers who can stop him, Gabriel Medina.

With the 42-year-old Kelly Slater losing his competitive edge and Mick Fanning content with his success, it will be these two 22-year-olds that will be fighting over a world title for the next decade.

The surfing world hasn’t had a sustained rivalry since Slater and Andy Irons duked it out ten years ago. In 2015, a new version is all set to commence.

dronesurfing

It’s a fair chance that if you are surfing any wave of quality at any time this year, the session will be filmed from a tiny flying machine high in the sky.

That machine will be probably be driven by four brushless 14.5W, 28,500 RMP in-runner motors.

It’s carbon tubes will have Liquid Repellent Nano-Coating on its ultrasound sensors.

The 1GHz 32 bit ARM Cortex A8 processor with 800MHz video DSP will operate the 720p 30fps HD Camera.

Ah the simple joys of surfing.

Yes, the drones are coming, the drones are coming. Sales are growing exponentially year-on-year, and along with GoPro, will create surfing CCTV.

Brazil Surfing P ASP

Gabriel Medina’s world title win will be the Trojan Horse that finally cracks the USA and Australia’s long held dominance over surfing.

2015 will see at least four of the top 10 being Brazilians (Medina, Toledo, DeSouza and Dantas), and another rookie Italo Ferreira will cause real problems. Add Jadson Andre and Migel Pupo and you can see the depth in numbers.

Additionally the qualifying series is packed with hungry, talented Brazilians who travel as a pack and devour Aussie beer drinkers and USA Christians with equal measure.

It was only in 1990 that the first Brazilian surfer, Fabio Gouvia, made the WCT. They gave the rest of the world a 20 year head start, but are now sprinting down the inside lane with world domination as their target.

Col water surf P tim nunn

At least four out of every five new waves discovered in 2015 will be in the far northern latitudes.

Only a small fraction of Alaska, Iceland, Scandinavia and Canada have been explored. These massive chunks of ocean-bound landmasses have unlimited potential.

Crucially more and more of this potential is being unlocked by a dedicated crew of surf explorers who are armed with better wetsuit technology, advanced GPS and a desire to surf quality waves on their own.

Now that might mean you can’t open a surfing magazine without seeing a surfer backdropped by a bloody iceberg, but the cold water revolution means that the surfing world is getting bigger.

In fact it is operating in an inverse proportion to the surfer’s testicles who are expanding it.

Kelly Slater P ASP

We’ve talked about the rise of both Gabriel Medina and John John Florence, but that doesn’t mean that Kelly Slater, surfing’s Benjamin Button, is about to be hooked off centre stage just yet.

In 2014, at an age when most surfers are cultivating bigger beer and SUP habits, Slater blew minds in various circumstances from ginormous Teahupoo to a groundbreaking 720 in Portugal beachbreaks.

Sure, 2015 might not see the sustained level of brilliance that has seen him dominate surfing for two decades. But, at certain times throughout the year, Kelly will be Kelly - and will rip surfing a new asshole.

dane_reynolds P strawberry-wax.com

In 2015, it will be just as difficult to answer who, where and why is Dane Reynolds?

Rumour has it he applied for a wildcard for the 2015 WSL, but was rejected by the powers that be.

Now while the recipients of those wildcards, Glen Hall and CJ Hobgood, are perhaps more deserved, they don’t exactly get the heart racing with excitement.

So instead we will have Dane being Dane.

He will get a few Quiksilver event wildcard and either fail miserably or dominate majestically.

He will drop clips that make everyone else redundant and then go missing for months on end.

He will be the most sought after surfer in surfing, the least professional surfer in professional surfing.

He will be loved, loathed and loved again. Dane Reynolds will be... Dane Reynolds.

surfer going surfing

On any given day, a surfer will simply pick up a surfboard and go surfing.

This surfer won’t be surfing a 100 foot wave, with or without a jetski. This surfer won’t die, he or she won’t travel to the north coast of the North Pole to do it.

This surfer won’t be competing against John John Florence or Gabriel Medina and won’t give a flying fuck what fraction of the top 150 are made up of surfers with Brazilian passport.

They will know who Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds are, but will not think about either for one of them for one millisecond in their surf at their local beach.

Unlike Alana Blanchard, the surfer won’t Instagram or GoPro their session.

They will simply pick up a surfboard and go surfing. And that my friends, is the future of surfing.