Man, how fast is this year moving? How fast is the Championship Tour flying through her events? It looks like it is nice and evenly spaced on paper, but the surfers on this tour barely get a chance for a breather before it is straight back into the next event.

The Australian leg flew by, and while there was great excitement around John John’s exemplary carving style, as well as Jordy’s hunger, it still is the early part of the season and not really in the reader’s eye as part of a world title chase yet. This happens later.

Rio, however, is when you start to see form. It’s that event where you will most likely start seeing when surfers kick into gear for the world title smash, as well as see surfers flounder and lose their way along the marathon that is a world title run. It’s the end of the beginning, and it’s when everything starts going business-like.

Contest site construction begins in Brazil. Photo WSL Brazil

Moving the contest to Saquarema does open up the field a little, having a powerful but extremely rippable left thrown into the mix. The last couple of years have only had natural-footers winning the event, including John John (x2), Filipe Toledo, Miche Bourez, Jordy Smith and Adriano de Souza, so having a predominantly left-breaking venue might swing it around in favour of the goofy-footers. Gabriel, Wilko, Owen Wright, Connor O’Leary might all become important players in this event, and could all possibly mess up opponents title runs.  

Moving to Saquarema also finally clears up the pollution problem that has persisted with the Championship Tour event in Rio for the last few years. There have been many calls to cancel the event or to move it along, and now that advice has been heeded, eradicating the possible health problems around polluted water.  

The Oi Rio Pro might also be where we start seeing some of the cracks in the old guard. It’s not going to be a barrel-fest where experience counts as much as if not more than talent, and it is most likely going to be open-faced surfing and airs. Without wishing to detract from the surfing skills of legends like Parko, Fanning, Buchan, Flores Durbidge and Slater, they are going to be hard-pressed to keep the wolves from the door and becoming yesterday’s news as the new school comes bursting through with a whole new arsenal of moves, styles and Big Match Temperaments. They’ve smelled blood over the last few events and know how totally human, and totally beatable their heroes are now.

It also looks like quite a lot of swell excitement in the long range forecast, so there might be all sorts of action in the water. Will the Brazilian Storm find their old groove again? Will the Hawaiian Hurricane muscle their way to the top? Will Kelly just embarrass each and every one of us with a scintillating performance and win, as he has been known to do? Will John John continue along the lines of brilliance he has shown over the last few months, or will Jordy climb back on to his positive place and finally do what he is destined to do and chase the world title for real?