The 10 Men to Watch Out for at The Gold Coast Quiksilver Pro
The Quik Pro is this weekend, and these are the leading contenders in the men's event
But is this going to be the year that the new generation of surfers come out of the shadow of the likes of Taj Burrow, Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning? They have threatened to at individual events, but if you're going to have a run at a title you need to lay down a marker here.
Then there are the wildcards, no one quite knows how they will affect things. They tend to duck out in round two, or go on hell runs and decimate the tour regulars with a pressure free contest strategy. It's not easy to predict, but here's our top ten guys to watch out for.
[part title="Kolohe Andino"]
Hyped since he was kid, if you believed what a lot of the surfing media were saying, he should have already have had a world title under his belt. But Kolohe has had a tough couple of years on tour, in fact the last two have seen him having to re-qualify through the Qualifying Series. So why should things change here?
Well he has had close calls, difficult first round heat seedings, and often comes up against the likes of Kelly Slater and a wild card, where he has just been edged out in epic heats. So it's time for that little bit of luck to swing his way, and back his undeniable talent.
He's also devastating in fast punchy right handers, and although he has drawn Tahitian Michel Bourez and Australian Owen Wright, it's time for Kolohe to shine. Expect him to make the round before the quarters at least , get on a roll and with his aerial repertoire he could go further.
Kolohe Andino Video:
[part title="Owen Wright"]
Owen Wright has been a title contender, which you would have thought would put him higher up this list. But he is one of the injury wildcards this year having had to sit out most of last season. So exactly how hard he comes back into this event is uncertain.
He is experienced on the Gold Coast, despite being a New South Wales native, and knows the waves well. However he is the only goofy foot in this list, so will have to do something that no one has done in nine years to break the regular footers strangle hold on this contest.
If he gets cleanly out of his first heat and straight into round three he has a legitimate chance of going a long way in this contest, and he'll be hungry to prove his 3rd pace overall finish in 2011 was not a fluke. This is a big event for Owen, coming back form injury is never easy and the momentum gained here will set him up for a solid year.
Owen Wright Video:
[part title="Adriano De Souza"]
Brazil's most successful ever surfer has form out here. The sucky walls of the Gold Coast sand bars really suit his powerful combination of turns and airs, and a semi and a final appearance, both times loosing to Taj Burrow are proof of that.
He has a pretty good first round draw, although countryman Alejo Muniz will be no push over. But Adriano is a real all or nothing character, if the man from Santos gets really going then you can see him winning the whole event, but he could just as easily fall in the second round, such is his inconsistency at times.
Adriano De Souza Video:
There was a buzz around Jordy Smith last year on the world tour. The South African is without doubt one of the very best surfers on the planet, but contest wise he has always looked in danger of falling into that category of being one of the best surfers never to have won a title.
But in 2013 he showed signs of more ruthlessness in competition, finishing fourth overall and for three quarters of the season was a genuine contender. So this first leg of the tour, and especially here on the Gold Coast where he has done well in the past is vital.
He has a pretty good draw up against resurgent Hawaiian Fred Patachia and Californian Brett Simpson. Realistically he should win this and get straight to round three, what happens next will show us which Jordy Smith is on tour this year, the consistent world title contender, or the explosive free surfer.
Jordy Smith Video:
[part title="Taj Burrow"]
Taj Burrow is surfing's nearly man at the moment, not that that bothers Western Australia's most exciting surfer of all time. Incredibly in 16 years on tour, Burrow has only finished outside the top 10 twice, in his first year and due to an injury. On the Gold Coast he has an equally as impressive record.
In the last four years he has won the event twice and finished runner up once, that is some serious consistency. He has been involved in a running battle with Brazil's Adriano De Souza, in two tight controversial heats, in which he took out both. So he knows the wave, knows how to win on the waves, and loves the wave.
So why is he not in the top two? There is too much competition this year, the young guns have got their contest game together and it could just be that Taj Burrow's domination at this event is going to come to end, but by come to an end we still mean at least quarter finals…
Taj Burrow Video:
[part title="Joel Parkinson"]
It's the 2012 world champions home break, he is one of the most consistent competitors of all time out here and finished runner up last year. He is a force to be reckoned with and ranked at number three in the world he has a kind first round draw, which he should breeze through to the third round.
Parkinson is definitely one to watch, and with his record here and massive home town support you'd expect a minimum of quarters from him. His powerful forehand attack, solid barrel riding, and the way he does fin wafts over sections make him deadly for all but the very best of adversary.
Joel Parkinson Video:
[part title="Julian Wilson"]
Julian Wilson is the most likely Australian to win a world title part from Fanning or Parkinson in our opinion. The superstar from The Sunshine Coast burst onto the scene, and whilst he got all the hype and mega endorsments which pushed him to the fore, he has actually slowly but surely been building up a solid contest game.
He's gone from being a little wet behind the ears when it comes to closing out WCT heats to verging on ruthless. In the last three seasons he has proved himself in solid and small waves, and particularly likes the Gold Coast. If Julian can come out of the blocks here with a solid start then he has a real chance of building momentum for a world title win.
Julian Wilson Video:
[part title="Mick Fanning"]
He's world champion, Snapper Rocks is his home break, and he is probably the most consistent competitor in surfing at the moment. Mick Fanning is a force to be reckoned with, and will take some serious beating at his local wave.
But whilst he is consistent, he is not unbeatable, last years world title success came off the back of just one contest win in France. The real story of his title was just pure consistency, so whilst he is a sure thing to make at least the quarter finals here, he is not for the win.
Having said that defending world champions surfing at their home break, tend to have a serious amount of drive. That home crowd audience cheering from the beach is worth an extra bit of power through every turn.
Mick Fanning Video:
[part title="John John Florence"]
He is the most progressive surfer on the planet. He can surf in anything from forty feet to 1 and make everyone look silly. He punts stratospheric aerials, has a powerfull carve on him and can park himself in barrels for days. John John Florence has it all and on paper at least is a world champ in waiting.
This is the year that he could well live up to that potential and seize his moment. He's put on some stellar performances in the last two years on tour, he's already got 'CT wins under his belt, but now is the time to add consistency to that list.
For the young Hawaiian it's going to be all about getting going out at Snapper, he has everything going for him, he's a lot more contest savvy than he was and has learnt to close out a heat. If he can win this event, or get to the final, it could be the springboard needed for a serious title campaign.
John John Florence Video:
[part title="Kelly Slater"]
He's one of the greatest athletes in any sport, he has dominated surfing like no man has ever before him nor are they likely to in the future. Despite being in his early forties he continues to step up his performance levels to match the likes of John john Florence, and is the most formidable of competitors.
After just losing out on the world title last year, he is hungrier than ever. If he had of won it, it's unlikely he would have done a full year on tour this year, but that defeat just stoked the fire.
He is lethal at Snapper or Kirra, he brings his A game to this event every year as is proved in his record. If Kelly is after world title number 12, and there is everything to suggest he is, then this is where he will draw a line in the sand. He's our favourite to win this event and the world tour.