Surfing Soapbox: Slater still at No. 1 in rankings

Ah yes, the Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Tour is back in full swing with Kelly Slater taking the first event on the Gold Coast of Australia a couple weeks ago and Joel Parkinson in devastating form last week at Bells Beach, Australia. Parkinson defeated perhaps the most in-form surfer of the event, Mick Fanning, in winning the 50th anniversary Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach in macking 6- to 8-foot surf.

Parkinson threw it down from start to finish in the final, adding to his win-lose ratio over Fanning, who has become a great rival over the last couple of years with both surfers coming from the same area on the Gold Coast. Making the semifinals was none other than Mr. Consistent himself, Jordy Smith, and Brazilian upstart Adriano De Souza, who had a fantastic event by smoking Slater in the quarterfinals.

The current top five rankings after the first two tour events are: 1. Slater, 2. Parkinson, 3. Smith, 4. tied equally De Souza and Tiago Pires.

The action shifts next week to the ASP Prime Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro in San Clemente, which will host an incredible list of the world's best surfers including 26 of the elite ASP Top 34. Crucial points for world tour qualification as well as the ever-important prize money will be up for grabs at one of California's most famous cobblestone point breaks May 3 to 7.

You won't want to miss the action as last year's No. 4 World Tour ranked surfer Dane Reynolds is rumored to surf his first event of the year after suffering a severe knee injury.

Slater is my pick to win it after getting smashed in last week's quarterfinals at Bells Beach and his utter dominance of this break since 1990.

Until next time: Stay healthy, keep surfing.

JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha

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