We’re exactly two weeks into the new year and already big things have been happening in the surfing world. And while we’re all aware that it is impossible to say what will happen in the future, that’s not going to stop us from throwing a few predictions out there of what we’re expecting to see transpire in 2014.
Just don’t say we didn’t tell you if they come true. If they don’t, well we’re not Nostradamus – and even he has been very wide of the mark.
Here are Zag’s predictions for 2014.
BIANCA BUITENDAG TO CLAIM HER MAIDEN DREAM TOUR WIN
A season best semi-final finish at the Colgate Plax Rio Pro is not too shabby for a rookie on the Dream Tour, but we’re expecting even bigger things from the Southern Cape goofyfoot shredder in 2014. Bianca’s backhand, learnt and polished on the winding walls of Vic Bay, is one of the best on tour. And with Snapper Rocks and Bells Beach the first two events of the year, we’re expecting a flying start from the tall Saffa on the Dream Tour. If not Snapper (where she made the quarter finals in 2013), then Bells Beach will be hers for the taking. And who knows what a start like that might mean to her title chase in 2014.
TWIGGY WILL WIN THE BIG WAVE WORLD TOUR TITLE
With three of six events already completed (or not completed due to lack of swell) Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker sits atop the BWWT rankings thanks to his massive win at the Arnette Punta Galea Classic. With only the Body Glove Mavericks Big Wave Invitational, the Seatka Pro at Nelscott Reef in Oregon and the Dive ’n Surf Todos Santos event in Mexico left to complete, Twiggy finds himself in poll position to take the crown. Mavericks he has won before and the KZN charger has shown plenty of motivation this year to push on to even greater heights. We’re predicting that nobody (except the ocean) is going to stand in the way of victory for Twiggy. Losing his major sponsor last year has also left Twiggy with a point to prove (as if he even needed to).
JOHN JOHN FLORENCE WILL WIN THE WORLD TITLE
It’s hard to look past JJF when it comes to the title race this year. He may only have one Dream Tour event win under his belt, but if his latest string of clips are anything to go by, there isn’t a more rounded surfer in the world right now. He bounced back remarkably from injury in 2013 to not only grab headlines with alley oops into the stratosphere, but also showed that he is unmatched (except maybe by Kelly) when it comes to being at one with the ocean. By this, we’re talking about the way he can squeeze out of full-on closeouts at places like Chopes, take off later, steeper and deeper than everyone at Pipe, charge Dungeons and Jaws, as well as be a standout even when the waves are non-existent. He’ll also be another year wiser, more experienced and hungrier than ever after his oh-so-close second place to Kelly at Pipe.
BEST YEAR IN LIVING MEMORY FOR SWELL
If the start to 2014 is anything to go by then we’re in for a treat. An unseasonal big swell in Cape Town brought Dungeons to life on the first weekend of this year, followed by two back-to-back solid swells that saw east coast surfers blessed with waves for days is about as good a start to the year that Zag can remember. Let’s not look past the gigantic storm nicknamed ‘Hercules’ that has just turned Europe on its head, and another cyclone brewing in the Indian Ocean. The signs are all pointing towards one of the best years in living memory. Of course, this is weather we are talking about and anything can happen. We’re holding thumbs.
AN ANNOUNCEMENT THAT J-BAY WILL BE BACK ON THE DREAM TOUR IN 2015
It wasn’t only the Saffas who thought it was a crying shame that Jeffreys Bay was omitted from the Dream Tour in 2012. The world cried foul too. “Why Rio and not J-Bay” came the calls. Those shouts have not stopped, and we’re expecting ZoSea to crumble under the pressure and do everything in their power to find a sponsor to get the J-Bay event back on the schedule in 2015. An announcement in the next month or two of its late inclusion in the 2014 schedule would be even more epic, but we’re not holding our breath on that one.
SOMEONE TO JOIN TRAVIS, JORDY AND BIANCA ON THE DREAM TOUR
Beyrick de Vries had a storming year on the WQS in 2013 ending 49th and putting himself in a good position to compete for a Dream Tour spot in 2015. Dale Staples also finished within the Top 100 and qualified for another year of competing in the Prime events. Dale in particular is yet to lose to Dream Tour standout John John Florence in the two match-ups that they’ve had so far, which shows his quality. Let’s not forget Sarah Baum, who was fighting neck-and-neck with Bianca Buitendag on the WQS prior to Bianca’s qualification. Despite an unlucky 2013, she will be back to give it another go in 2014. If waves and luck swing their way this year, then we predict that there will be another Saffa joining the likes of Jordy, Travis and Bianca on the Dream Tour next year.
ASP JUDGES TO GET IT RIGHT IN 2014
According to pundits and fans worldwide the judges have been far from perfect the past two years. We’re predicting that it is a case of third time lucky for the ASP judges as they refine their formula and improve their ratio of making the right call. We’re expecting some of those correct calls to swing the way of the deserved heat winner and not always the way of the higher seed.
ANOTHER WORLD CLASS WAVE TO BE DISCOVERED IN AFRICA
Bruce’s Beauties was the first way back in 1966 to make headlines worldwide for its quality, followed shortly after by Jeffreys Bay. The world looked elsewhere for a few decades before Skeleton Bay put Africa firmly back on the world map in 2009, followed last year by a recent discovery in Angola. Jordy also brought the world’s attention to a certain endless sandbar in Mozambique, and the door remains open to more discoveries in 2014. It will most likely be another endless sandspit, but wouldn’t it be rad if they uncovered a world class reef break in the Teahupo’o mould, or perhaps another quality rocky point like Supertubes? Either way Africa is holding some gems close to its chest. For now.