Somewhere in Puerto Rico, the Rip Curl Pro Search is gearing up to start at a still-mysterious location, with the world's best surfers ready to converge on the island paradise of warm weather and fun waves. Stop No. 9 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search will have a waiting period from Oct. 30 through Nov. 10 and potentially bear witness to Kelly Slater winning an unprecedented 10th world title.
This could turn out to be one of the greatest feats in sports history, right there with Lance Armstrong's seven consecutive Tour de France victories and Roger Federer's all-time Grand Slam victories record.
It is hard to imagine Slater not wrapping it up in Puerto Rico, considering the following scenarios: If Slater finishes equal third or better, he clinches the 2010 ASP World Title. If Slater finishes equal fifth or equal ninth, Jordy Smith must win the event to send the ASP World Title Race to Hawaii. If Slater finishes equal 13th or equal 25th, Smith must finish equal third or better to send the race to Hawaii. Essentially, if Smith fails to finish higher than equal fifth, Slater claims the title.
While Slater is primed and ready to secure his 10th world title, his closest and only rival sits some 10,000 points behind him in Smith, who had to pull out of last week's Coldwater Classic due to an ankle injury that he sustained in a dodge ball tournament. Rounding out the current top five surfers in the world at the moment are No. 3 Mick Fanning, No. 4 Taj Burrow and No. 5 Adrian Buchan, with Californians Patrick Gudauskas and Brett Simpson in the No. 20 and 21 slots.
My pick: Slater wraps up his unprecedented 10th world title, and the rest is history in the making.
JAMES PRIBRAM is a professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfing and ECOWarrior Surf.com. He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha SchoolofSurfing.com.