For the first time in a very long time, surfing superstar Kelly Slater is not the title favourite going into a World Championship Tour season, the 2013 edition of which will run from March to December with 10 exciting events scheduled.
Slater is surfing royalty. The American won his first World Championship Tour crown in 1992 and two years ago took his number of titles to 11. At the grand old age of 41, Slater looks committed to having a real crack at relieving Joel Parkinson of the prize that the Australian won in 2012.
No man comes close to matching Slater in the world surfing title ranks. Slater’s 11 championships is more than double that of Australian legend Mark Richards (five titles) and no other man else has accrued more than three. Slater could give away the professional surfing game – he does not need the money – so it speaks volumes for his competitive nature and great ability that he still wants to mix it with men, some of whom such as John John Florence are half his age.
For the record, there are four World Championship Tour winners in the running for the 2013 title – Australia’s Mick Fanning (2007 and 2009), the United States of America’s CJ Hobgood (2001), Parkinson (2012) and Slater (1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011).
How The Championship Works
The Quiksilver Pro on Australia’s Gold Coast will be the first event of the 2013 World Championship Tour. Following that will be another famous competition in Australia – the Rip Curl Pro – single events in Brazil, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Indonesia and Portugal and a couple of dates in the United States of America, including the season-ending Billabong Pipeline Masters at Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii.
There are 10 events on the 2013 World Championship Tour but the competition standings will only include the best eight results of each surfer, thereby making it possible for someone to have a couple of nightmares and still win the title. Joel Parkinson won the 2012 World Championship Tour despite winning only the last of the year’s 10 events. Usually champions win at least three calendar events.
Parkinson Heads The Betting
Bookmakers have chalked odds about both not only the 2013 World Championship Tour but also the opening event, the Quiksilver Pro. Somewhat surprisingly, bookmakers have installed Parkinson as the favourite in both markets.
Parkinson is trading at odds of around 7-2 to become the sixth man to win back-to-back world surfing titles, with the other being Richards (1979 to 1982 inclusive), Tom Carroll (1984 and 1985), Tom Curren (1986 and 1987), Slater (1994 to 1998 inclusive, as well as 2005 and 2006) and the late Andy Irons (2002 to 2004 inclusive). Irons died from cardiac arrest in November 2010 at the young age of 32 years.
According to bookmakers, the 2013 Quiksilver Pro is more open than this year’s World Championship Tour race, with Parkinson trading at odds of around 9-2 and about 10 competitors quoted at odds of around 20-1 or less.
Slater is to Surfing What Taylor is to Darts
When one bets on darts, Phil Taylor is one’s first port of call. One asks oneself whether there is a value argument for backing The Power and goes from there. It is a similar story with surfing. One asks oneself whether there is a value argument for backing Slater and does not even think about anything else until coming up with the correct answer.
Even in his early 40s, Slater is the world’s best surfer on his day and, while Parkinson, Fanning and exciting American grommet Florence have legitimate 2013 World Championship Tour prospects, Slater should be the clear favourite.
Odds of around 6-1 about Slater winning his 12th world title are simply too big to pass. Remember, the veteran American was desperately unlucky not to come out on top in 2012 having won three of the 10 events. Overall, Slater has won 10 World Championship Tour events in the last three years, many more than anyone else. And the legend remains as hungry as ever, otherwise he would have called it a day.
Understandably, bookmakers are taking very few chances with Florence but it does not seem on the money that the star of tomorrow is trading at the same odds as the star of today.
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Slater has won three Quiksilver Pro events on Australia’s Gold Coast (2006, 2008 and 2012) but the American is the only non-Australian surfer to win it, with Parkinson (2002 and 2009), Dean Morrison (2003), Michael Lowe (2004), Fanning (2005 and 2007) and Taj Burrow (2010 and 2012) delighting the home crowds at the other renewals.
Burrow has not been out of the top two in any of the last three Quiksilver Pro events in his home country so the West Australian appeals at odds of around 8-1. Alternatively, one could back Parkinson (around 9-2), Fanning (around 6-1) and Burrow (around 8-1) and obtain odds of around 5-4 that one of the heavily fancied home hopes gets the job done.