Surfing Soapbox: Drama continues to brew at world tour

There's mutiny in the ranks at the Assn. of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour as it's turning into its own soap opera on surfboards.

Dane Reynolds and Bobby Martinez have both dropped out of the upcoming Billabong Pro Tahiti. They have openly dissed the ASP World tour and have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure, along with Hawaiian standout Fred Patacchia, also known as "Freddy P.", who thankfully will still be competing.

I must admit the new format of the ASP World Tour is hard to understand with the new field of 32 surfers and a mid-year cut-off and reshuffling of surfers.

Also confusing is the different rankings of events with two separate surfing tours that somehow come up with one world tour ranking. That, along with new venues in New York and San Francisco being added to this year's tour, has many of the surfers scratching their heads.

OK, enough of the inner workings of the ASP World Tour.

Here's the good news: The swell forecast for Tahiti looks good with several storms coming together, which should produce a good event.

More good news: After missing the South Africa contest and winning the U.S. Open of Surfing, Kelly Slater will be competing. Slater is on a hot streak going into this event. After putting on one of the best performances of his stellar career, which includes 10 world titles, Slater is my pick to win in Tahiti.

Other strong title contenders include Damien and C.J. Hobgood, local hero Michel Bourez and Adrian Buchan, who I personally like in this lineup.

Luckily for surfing fans, Cory Lopez will be taking Reynolds' place, and if the surf gets big as expected, Lopez will be right at home and capable of serving up some serious upsets along the way. Stay tuned as the tour is only just now beginning to heat up.


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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