After a two-and-a-half month break, the ASP World Tour is back until July 25 at one of the world's most exciting surfing breaks in the likes of Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. After a stumble in the first event, finishing in equal ninth, Kelly Slater has rebounded in fine form since finishing with a win and second-place finish in the last event, and he now finds himself in a familiar place.
Sitting atop the world rankings once again and gunning for a 10th world title, Slater is the clear favorite to add to the four titles (1996, 2003, 2005, 2008) that he has already captured at the famous right-hand point break known to the surfing world as J-Bay.
However, the next generation is not far behind, and nipping at Slater's heels is the likes of hometown favorite Jordy Smith, the current No. 2 ranked surfer. Smith has every trick in the book, as well as the basic fundamentals of good rail-to-rail power surfing to match Slater's arsenal and a key ingredient needed to win here.
Other surfers with a sniffing chance of winning include defending world champion Mick Fanning, 2007 J-Bay champion Taj Burrow and Californian wonder kid Dane Reynolds.
Joel Parkinson will be sitting this event out after suffering a devastating gash to his foot.
I think Smith will push Slater to his limits at Jeffreys Bay, and for this year's world title race, because he is game to do so.
The only problem is that when Slater is pushed and challenged, that is when he is absolutely at his best. Eyeing his 10th world title, and perhaps going into his best event along with Pipeline Masters, Slater will once again rise above, winning again here and ultimately winning his 10th world title this year, before riding off into the sunset and handing over the keys to the next generation.