Fiji came, Fiji went, and this is not a contest re-cap. It’s 2013 and Heats On Demand is more explicit than words could ever hope to be. So instead of sitting here and using the word “thread” to inadvertently equate Kelly Slater with a 41-year-old sweatshop seamstress, let’s talk business. This isn’t about the journey; it’s about the destination. This is about who did the best job of milking the Fijian udder and walking away with the fullest pale of fresh whole milk. This is about championship. Here are notes on guys who made Fiji their bitch. And please, don’t call them power rankings.
Kelly Slater: What can be said about this man that hasn’t already been said about the Roman Empire? He dominated the event in the same way that the Romans smashed Thom Pringle’s gypsy ancestors into a wandering oblivion. Kelly is now ranked first, but it will be interesting to see how he fares at Keramas. Bali won’t be Kelly’s weak point, because such a thing only exists in the imagination of a child, but it will be the strong point of his younger foes. Can the bald gladiator hold on? (Bold prediction: Probably.)
Mick Fanning: This brawny bastard has been the most consistent surfer of 2013. He’s got two 3rds, a 5th and now a 2nd. There are ten events on tour, and the ASP factors a surfer’s top eight results into the final tally. If you base your judgment off the fact that Parko kept a 5th in his scoreline last year, you can say that Mick has yet to record a throwaway result. Mick looked as dapper as James Bond at Fiji and he’s given himself room for error as the tour moves on — although errors aren’t really his forte.
Jordy Smith: If you throw away his 13th place result on the Goldy, Jordy is right up there with Mick in terms of consistency (3, 1, 5). But Jords has something that Mick doesn’t have: a win. Coming in hot off a Brazilian victory, his performance at Cloudbreak was an exhibit of maturity. He proved that he is a viable contender this year.
Nat Young: Santa Cruz’s favorite son (sorry, Shawn Barron) cemented his blossoming reputation as a menace to surf against. No matter how talented a surfer may be, it usually takes a year or two for them to figure out how things work on the World Tour. Nat ain’t subscribing to that. Only his first trip to Tavarua, and he willed his way to Round 5. Nat is now 6th on tour, ahead of Parko.
Sebastian Zietz: It is the plight of every regular-footed Kauaian to be audaciously compared to Andy Irons. In Fiji, Seabass made this comparison almost plausible — which is saying a lot. His instinct in the tube and spirited post-heat interviews were as refreshing as a chilled Arnold Palmer on a steamy July afternoon. He repeated his Billabong Rio Pro Quarterfinal finish in conditions that polarized Brazil. The Bass is in the Top 10, and he’s here to stay.
Adriano de Souza: Adriano went into Fiji as the first seed and left Fiji as the fifth. It was a soul-decimating disappointment for this feisty little man. But instead of sulking it out in the favela, Adriano went straight to Bali to prepare. Look for a fiery resurrection at the Oakley Pro.
Kolohe Andino: A slipup in Fiji would have earned Kolohe a comfortable spot in the World Tour basement. But talent and drive like Kolohe’s simply do not belong in a dungeon. Kolohe beat Gabriel Medina and Julian Wilson on his way to a 9th place finish, his best of the year. Even more notable is the fact that it came at a wave where he’s struggled in the past. That’s enough for some momentum going into Keramas, and lord knows he loves to throw that tail.
CJ Hobgood: CJ is the best unsponsored surfer in the world. Sans major backing, he’s got mouths to feed and contests are their meal ticket. CJ surfed the final day in a pair of Volcom trunks, which lead to speculation that he borrowed Richard Woolcott’s trunks due to lack of endemic endorsement. While this can be neither confirmed nor denied, one thing is certain: CJ’s Semifinal finish and its corresponding $17,500 paycheck meant more to him than anyone. He’s now comfortably sitting in 8th place, and the Hobgoods ate steak last night.
Last but not least, John John is back. 10s and all. See those butt stalls? Baby got back!