The 2012 ASP Men’s World Tour looks to be as exciting as we may have ever seen. With a collection of rookie and veteran surfers whose wave riding approaches incorporate all of the on-rail, fins-free, and aerial repertoire that have become the standard of professional surfing today.
Although early season picks for the 2012 ASP World Title realistically come from a very short list of more seasoned veteran ASP World Tour Surfers, look for these four young, exciting surfers to shake things up.
John Florence is the reigning Vans Triple Crown of Surfing champion, and has also won a couple of recent events in his backyard at Pipeline. Add to this that John just won the 2012 Telstra Drug Aware Pro ASP Prime event, and it could be argued that John is the most in-form surfer on Tour at the moment. John has all the tools needed to win ASP World Tour events, and has to be considered a frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year. John’s only downside, which might make him a purist’s favorite, is the fact that he is one of only a few surfers on Tour that has a less over-coached “cookie cutter” style. John’s style appears much more natural, making for a much different wave riding approach than most surfers currently on Tour.
Gabriel Medina surprised everyone immediately upon coming on Tour at the mid-season cut last year by winning two events (Quiksilver Pro France and Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco). Gabriel was also impressive at the epic swell event that took place at the 2011 Billabong Pipeline Masters. Gabriel does not seem to have many flaws, surfing extremely well on his frontside and backside. Gabriel’s progressive go-for-broke approach will likely yield mixed results in 2012 (his equal 25th at Snapper being a prime example). However, if Gabriel learns when to push and when to hold back a little, he could certainly become a top ten finisher, and challenge John Florence for Rookie of the Year honors.
Kolohe Andino will be among the leaders pushing progressive surfing further in the future, and the 2012 WCT season will be a launching pad for this glimpse into that future. Kolohe is also capable of mixing it up by adding strong on rail power surfing to his repertoire when conditions warrant. However, look for Kolohe to have mixed results this year. Kolohe requires additional event experience and heat maturation at the World Tour level, and thus will struggle through portions of the season. Teahupoo and Pipeline are venues that will be benchmarks for Kolohe in 2012.
Miguel Pupo is a 3x ASP Prime event winner (Nike 6.0 Event at Lowers, O’Neill Cold Water Classic Event in Santa Cruz, and the Hang Loose Pro event in Fernando de Noronha). Miguel is a scrappy fighter, and he will need all that fighter instinct to push through to the later rounds in this his maiden year on the WCT (so far so good, with Miguel receiving a well earned equal 9th place finish at Snapper). Miguel is the least publicized of the youth on Tour this year, that lack of attention will help keep the heavy pressure of expectation off of Miguel.
In summary, the youth on the 2012 ASP Men’s World Tour will prevail and continue to push the sport of surfing forward. Although we might not see an ASP Men’s World Title from a rookie, look for the youth on tour in 2012 to both set new standards and to change the landscape of professional surfing.