We look into our crystal ball and predict what lies ahead.
John John will win another title and three individual event wins.
They might be QS events, specialty events or Big Wave events, but he is going to win all sorts of events and end up with another world title. He has everything set to go his way, including the favour of the judges who love his calm approach and easy-going nature. It would be hard to imagine JJ storming the JBay tower or throwing coral at judges or trying to wee on them at nightclubs. For these reasons he will mostly have split-decisions going his way. The fact that he will lead the World Surf League towards the next level of professional surfing gets the nod of approval from all the important players in the sport.
Nazaré will become the pinnacle event of the BWT.
The big wave scene will recalibrate in 2017, and it will become plain to see that there are no waves in the world that are too big and too dangerous to surf. Puerto will enjoy another good event, as will Pe’ahi, but events like the Oregon Pro at Nelscott Reef, Pico Alto and Lobos will start looking fairly insignificant in comparison to Nazaré, and Jaws. The Portuguese big wave spot will provide the biggest waves of the tour in 2017 without a doubt, and it will put the 2016 event in perspective. We have yet to see what can be paddle-surfed at this unique surf spot.
Portugal will totally become the new focus for WSL and will set up large and shiny offices there.
They will need to, with the above-mentioned Nazaré Challenge, the Rip Curl Pro Portugal, the Cascais Women’s Pro, the Billabong Pro Cascais 10,000 WQS event, the Azores Airlines Pro 6,000 WQS event, Pro Junior events, Longboard tour events and women’s WQS events. They already are a powerhouse surfing nation, but 2017 will be a year of consolidation. As a result, over the next few years there will be more Portuguese surfers on the WQS and ultimately on the Championship Tour.
Jordy Smith will have a good run, but won’t get a world title.
He’s becoming the next Taj Burrow – likeable, friendly and always having a good time, combined with some of the most incredible surfing year after year, but he world title will continue to elude him, and he’ll be ok with that. He’ll win some events for sure – that talent can only lead to clear-cut victories - but they won’t be sustained for a world title. It’ll be ok though, with renewed contracts, best video clips ever and those afore-mentioned wins will see him highly visible throughout the year, and his popularity will continue to grow.
Kelly Slater won’t retire at the end of 2017.
He said that he is going to, but he has said similar things so many times before and changed hi mind, so we are saying that he is not going to retire at the end of the year. His determination and focus will see him in the top five at the end of the year minimum or second place to John John (see point 1, above) and why would anyone placing the top five in their sport have to consider retiring? You don’t see top five ATP tennis players or Formula 1 racers retiring. KS will be sticking around for a while, and the tour will be a better place for it.
Sharks will make headlines.
A real solution will present itself to the world with regards to the rampant shark problem currently being experienced in certain stretches of coastline in Australia and other parts of the world..
It’ll be a solution that will be a bit more in-depth than the repetitive dogma that ‘the surfers are entering the sharks domain and deserve what they get’, or others saying ‘it’s just a fish, catch it and kill it like you do tuna.’
Nor will it consist of the magic of magnet bracelets. It’ll be something different, something we have been missing.
The discovery will come about when someone really important gets eaten by a shark, the outcry becomes so loud, and finally serious coin gets dropped on research. Just as the Leishmaniasis disease suddenly reaching into North America has led to feverish research for a cure over the last few years, so too will something trigger research into shark attacks and prevention thereof. It’s too bad that someone important, possibly even nice, has to be eaten first.
Social media will kill traditional surf media models.
With the increased influence of social media and hand-held live streaming on surf events, the role of surf journalism, surf photography and surf reporting will diminish even further, and those still in the game will resort to all sorts of guttersnipery throughout 2017 to keep in the game. It’ll be funny, it’ll be tragic, and it’ll end in tears. It always ends in tears.