Surfing Soapbox: Waves of action on this year's ASP world tour

After a decade of alternative surfing venues in Brazil, the Assn. of Surfing Professionals' World Tour returns to Rio de Janeiro this week with the king of surfing, Kelly Slater, once again leading the world title chase.

At 39, Slater opened this season with yet another win but faltered in the quarterfinals against Brazilian Adriano de Souza. Slater should be considered one of the favorites to win this week in Brazil along with No. 2 world-ranked Joel Parkinson, followed closely by Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning as event favorites.

Last week at Lowers Trestles, Tanner Gudauskas nearly pulled off the storybook ending with a runner-up finish last week.

Watching Kolohe Andino surf last week brought back memories of the first time I saw Kelly Slater surf in person on the north shore of Oahu back in 1987. It was like the second coming of the king watching Andino last week. He's cool, poised and has all the surfing fundamentals that many of today's young surfers are missing. While having a huge bag of tricks to boot, the future is bright.

It's been a great two weeks at home, but it's back on the road as I'll be heading to Bangkok for a week to give a talk about the importance of preserving our beaches and oceans.

I have to give a big shout out this week to my man, Steve Kawaratani. Always enjoy reading your column. But wow, pal, 60 this month? Put those feet up, enjoy an umbrella drink and continue to enjoy the ride of life.

Happy soon-to-be birthday.

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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