#10 Bede Durbidge – The reason he is interesting is because he is so damn uninteresting. From unsponsored finalist in the first WCT event (Quik Pro Snapper) of the ’07 season to winner of the Triple Crown of Surfing (first Aussie since Mike Rommelse in 1997), we are still asking ourselves, “Who is this guy?’ Even now, 9 out of 10 team managers surveyed couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Bede Durbidge. Who knew?
#9 Sunny Garcia – Garcia’s release from federal prison saw him on the uptick as he spoke remorsefully about his past and optimistically about his future. He had, according to unsubstantiated reports, even won over fellow WCT competitors and attained a 2008 WCT wildcard. It was quickly revoked, again, according to the North Shore rumor mill, due to anger management issues following his Pipeline Masters meltdown.
#8 David Rastovich – Rasta attacked Japan. Well, a portion of their dolphin and whale fisheries at least. Rasta’s personal convictions are unique in this world of ‘foundations’ and ’causes’ created by public relations offices. Unique not because he is convicted, but because he acts on his convictions. Say what you will about environmental fanaticism, Rasta is simply following his heart. Is that so wrong?
#7 Koby Abberton – If it wasn’t Paris Hilton surf lessons, it was perusing a Sunset strip night spot with Russell Crow. Despite the side stories, Abberton’s story is, in fact, his story: Bra Boys. The acclaimed movie (Best Documentary SURFER Poll) is an intriguing tale and should be on every surfers "to watch" list.
#6 Stephanie Gilmore – The first rookie to ever win a world title. She surfs with style (reminiscent of Lisa Anderson) and unlike many women on tour, and some men for that matter, Gilmore understands that how you rack up the points is more important than the actual points. Guess what? That’s why she racked up so many points. Gilmore gets it.
#5 Garrett McNamara and Keali’i Mamala – Holy crap. These two took extreme to the extreme. M&M surfed the tidal waves of a glacier melt in Alaska. No. I’m not kidding. Words don’t do it justice. Watch the video. It’s part “Blair Witch Project” part “National Geographic Explorer” part “Flavor of Love” (Google it- I dare ya).
#4 Mick Fanning – Focused. Mick Fanning’s assault on the 2007 world title is best summarized by this word. Fanning left nothing unplanned and everything spoken for. It seemed that where he stayed, whom he hung out with, what he ate, all of his actions, interactions and decisions: none of them happened unless they got Fanning closer to a World Title. For Fanning it was all data, information to be processed. If Slater won in ’06 by “letting go,” Fanning won in 2007 by holding it in his hand, determining might help him, and discarding the rest.
#3 A. Garrett Lisi – A Theory of Everything? Really? Surfer/Outdoorsman/Physicist Lisi put forth a research paper (to be tested later this year) which attempts to explain, well, everything. Many are skeptical, but such is the nature of scientists, and surfers too, for that matter. Nevertheless, mainstream media outlets picked up on the surfer slash scientist connection and ran with it.
#2 Jordy Smith – Mr. Smith goes to the OC. Jordy ushered in a new era and the velcro valley will never be the same. He looked at the biggest surf company in the world (by market cap – their words not mine) and said no thanks. He held out. With the entire surfing industrial complex promising the moon, he held out. And he got paid. Somewhere upwards of $2 million per year. The most highly touted rookie since Slater, everyone is going to be watching, but not because of the money.
#1 Chicken Joe – Chicken Joe didn’t care. He just surfed. A theme that has been the backbone of our sub culture forever. Yeah, the “SURF's Up” co-star made Spicoli sound like Einstein, but this chicken’s innocent, happy go-lucky nature and mind blowing surf moves entertained movie goers all summer long. More importantly, Chicken Joe reinforced the notion that surf trophies are just fragile pillars holding up the insecure – trust me, I know. I’ve got a mantle full.