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Issue 6, 2014

Hope In The Air

For past three years I've been on Australia's Gold Coast for the first event of the WCT season. I'm here right now, actually, writing from the 8th-floor balcony of the Rainbow Place apartment complex. The air is warm, the swell is building, the water is see-through and there is hope in the air.

Every one of the top-34 surfers in the world has lofty aspirations at the moment. New season, new opportunities. The score is 0-0 and last year ain't nothin' but a seeding. So, like Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption, they hope. Hope to requalify. Hope for the top 10. Hope for a world title. And hope is a beautiful thing.

I first noticed this pre-season optimism in 2012, when I interviewed Jordy Smith a few floors above where I'm sitting now. He was fit, confident, well equipped and with a steady girl. A world title was in his sights, but it was in everyone's sights, and only person can win each year. In 2012 that person was Joel Parkinson. Jordy Smith finished 12th.

But today it's 2014 and as we begin a more concerted effort to cover the WCT, SURFING Magazine is hopeful, too. We are going to be at every event this year with a writer and a couple of photographers. And with exclusive access behind the scenes we will provide you with previews, daily updates and a flipbook from every competition. While most of our efforts will be focused online, you'll see it more in the magazine, too. Which is why we spoke with Jordy Smith again for this issue. As he trained at an isolated African pointbreak we were getting reports that, recently married and with a fresh outlook on competing, that this was a "new Jordy."

We wondered, though, how was this Jordy different than the Jordy we spoke with two years ago? How do the best in the world convince themselves, and us, time and again, that this year is different? The interview you'll read gives a unique insight into the psychology and preparation that each surfer, or at least Jordy, works through leading into a new year. It's the type of article you can expect to see in these pages in the coming year.

Despite the mental and physical training that Jordy Smith undertook during the off-season, he finished 25th on the Gold Coast. Last place. By the time you read this, you'll being watching him in West Oz. But whether or not Jordy emerges on top when the season wraps at Pipeline is almost inconsequential. We're just thankful to have insight into the psyche of the modern competitive surfer and know that hope — sometimes naïve, sometimes warranted — is what keeps us coming back each year.
—Taylor Paul