Joe Surf: Jordy Smith shows potential to be the 'next Kelly Slater'

There's a sports blog with a video clip on Yahoo! Sports titled "Jordy Smith pulls arguably the best surfing move ever."

The move is called a "rodeo flip," and it's kind of a combination of a flip and a reverse 360. I know it's a sick move because there are 1,390 comments at last count, and many of them just have one word to describe it: "sick."

It won't be long before Smith starts pulling off the rodeo flip in a competition, and of course, it's an assumption on my part that he hasn't already.

The clip is a couple years old, the trick performed by Smith when he was just 21. Now 23, Smith is the face of a new breed of surfers, those who are doing incredible aerials on a board that many could not even conceive of only a decade or so ago. It's been said it's like incorporating skateboarding or snowboarding moves into surfing.

Smith, though, is no one-trick pony. In fact, he might be the next Kelly Slater.

That's right, I said it.

Calling anybody the "next Kelly Slater" is not really fair. I admit it. It's like calling a basketball player the next Michael Jordan. It's just sets expectations way beyond the scope of reality.

Slater has won 10 — 10! — ASP world titles. No one else has won more than three. And now, at age 39, Slater is in good position to win his 11th. Going into the Quiksilver Pro in New York, which is going on now, Slater held a slim lead in the World Tour points standings.

That slim lead — 26,950 to 26,500 — was over the second-place Smith, who also happened to be the runner-up to Slater in the World Title race last year.

Following the New York competition, the surfers come back to California at Trestles for the Hurley Pro, the seventh of the 11 World Tour events, from Sept. 18 to 24.

And, oh yeah: Slater won that one, too. Last year.

So Smith definitely has his work cut out for him, even more so now that he is battling a rib injury, suffered in Tahiti, which forced him to withdraw from the New York event.

Smith should be OK for the Hurley Pro, which is important because the World Tour points standings are based on a surfer's nine best finishes out of the 11 scheduled events.

So why Smith? Why is he the next great surfer? Well, for starters, it doesn't hurt that Smith was born on Feb. 11 — just like Slater, only 16 years later.

Since reaching Elite Tour status in 2008, Smith has maintained a rise through the ranks. He was 26th in the world in his rookie year of 2008, 11th in 2009, second last year, and this year, he's knocking on the door.

Banging on it.

His high-flying style is what judges seem to like. It brings in big scores and makes him a threat in competitions, regardless of conditions.

But if Smith is going to break through, he still has a barrier to break. So far, Smith's only World Tour event victories have come in his native South Africa. He won at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, in 2010 and again this year, but hasn't won any other World Tour events.

In this year's ASP events, he placed third in two events in Australia and 13th in events in Brazil and Tahiti.

The Hurley Pro at Trestles would be a good place to buck the trend. He's moved his residence to Newport Beach, so maybe he's adopted Southern California as a new home break.

Problem is, Slater will be there, too. And not only does Slater love surfing at Trestles and winning there, he seems to be on top of his game. He won this year's first World Tour event in Australia, then won the most recent one in Tahiti.

If he wins the current event on Long Island in New York, there may be no stopping him.

This year, anyway.

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at

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