The empty canvas that will host the Top 34 come Tuesday for the 2014 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Photo:  Childs

The empty canvas that will host the Top 34 come Tuesday for the 2014 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Photo: Childs

Momentum. It's an often-debated talking point at any sporting event. From competitors to spectators to overly cliche announcers hoping to connect past wins with future ones, the word seems to be on the tip of our collective tongues. And while there's a good argument to be made for its validity, it has always been my belief that those to be most feared in competition were the top seeds that began the year slowly.

Gabriel Medina is the current world champ after a dream year that saw everything fall neatly into place for him. Joel Parkinson is surfing stronger and smoother than ever. John John is already at Bells practicing. All three of these elite surfers had a disastrous showing at Snapper and lost out in Round 3. None of these three made my FS team, but all warrant much attention at Bells. Heading into Torquay, it's do-or-die time for the Tour. Historically, you'll see five world title contenders break from the pack here.


Kelly Slater
Market Price: $9,750,000
Throughout his career, Kelly Slater's had more momentum on his side than anyone, yet he relishes being the underdog, coming from behind, and nipping at your ankles. If the event is run at Rincon and the conditions aren't up to par, it'll be difficult for Kelly to go toe-to-toe with Filipe Toledo on the inside. However, if the Bowl is 6-foot, no one can match him.

Mason Ho
Market Price: $1,500,000
Mason Ho is a wildly entertaining surfer who brings a lot of spark to any event looking to offer more than the same 32 flavors. After a string of impressive results in Hawaii, Mason does have some momentum on his side heading into Bells. Keep an eye on him.

Kolohe Andino
Market Price: $7,500,000
Raised on a steady diet of Uppers and Lowers, Kolohe Andino is prepared to handle himself in just about any condition Bells will throw out. His added size and strength puts him shoulder to shoulder with the men on Tour for the first full season since he joined the elite rank.

Julian Wilson
Market Price: $8,000,000
Julian Wilson is looking every bit the hunter this season. With a set-in-stone plan of attack and near-perfect precision, Julian could do some damage at Bells. When circumstances calls for change, Julian needs to remain flexible to the variables that will occur in a heat if he wants to find himself on the podium.

Matt Banting
Market Price: $5,000,000
After steadily improving his act over the past few years, Matt Banting has become the full package. With an increase in strength complemented by a tremendously high rate of landing big moves, Banting brings a lot to the table. With years of experience at Bells behind him, I'm expecting to see a very polished approach from this this ultra-talented young Australian.

Jordy Smith
Market Price: $9,250,000
There are moments on Tour when Jordy Smith is unparalleled. When he's surfing at 100 percent, he's almost untouchable. But there are also moments were Jordy fails to find a rhythm and falters in heats that he should have won. Success for the South African lies when he's able to tap into the middle ground. When he gets there, he'll find more consistency and will not only start winning more heats, but he could be on the path to becoming a world champ.

Dusty Payne
Market Price: $3,750,000
Given the opportunity, Dusty Payne loves a shootout. When both surfers get ample opportunity to ride waves and one-up their fellow competitor with every turn, Dusty shines. It is in those rare competitive moments that the true level and talent of Dusty can be seen, giving rise to the notion that Dusty truly belongs in the top 10.

Filipe Toledo
Market Price: $7,500,000
When conditions suit his approach, Filipe Toledo may just be the most unstoppable force on tour we've seen in some time. With that in mind, Bells has many faces that cater to Filipe's act very well. To beat him in those instances, you must be perfect in your execution and hope that he stumbles.