The grind is on. With Round One of the Oakley Saquarema Prime at Itauna, Brazil, in the books, we're just at the start of a grueling, five-event run of Prime events. From now until Aug.7, when the U.S. Open of Surfing concludes, the ratings will be in flux, every point will count, and we'll have a much better idea of who the 32 surfers that will finish up the year on the World Tour are.
At this point there are too many scenarios to begin to dissect who needs to do what, but consider that much touted rookie Julian Wilson sits 27th on the ASP World Rankings and 30th on the ASP World Tour Rankings, meaning Mr. Wilson has some work to do over the next couple months. Or take Tanner Gudauskas. A victim of the restructuring during his rookie season last year, he's now one good result away from jumping back up to the big time. And lets not even get started on the hordes of Brazilians amassing at the gate. With another Prime event in Brazil, and then the Quik Pro Portugal coming up after that, they have a bulk of the schedule on their side ... and we all remember what Miguel Pupo did at the U.S. Open last year, right?
So it's with that backdrop that Round 1 fired off. Of those that need to start compiling results, Wilson, Yadin Nicol, Dion Atkins, Raoni Montero, Willian Cardosa, Cory Lopez, Pat and Tanner Gudauskas were all successful in their bids for the Round of 48. While Granger Larson, Heitor Alves, and Alejo Muniz were upset early.
Also worthy of note, there's a crop of youngsters who are just starting to come of age. They've worked their seed up high enough to get into the Primes, and are now busily logging experience on an elite level. Kolohe Andino, John Florence and Nat Young all may have bombed out in their respective heats, but they're there, they're getting educated. And some, like Kai Barger, Kiron Jabor, Sebastien Zietz, and Gabriel Medina, put it together enough to advance. Win or lose, they're learning, and it would seem only a matter of time before they're vying for one of those top 32 spots.
This Brazil leg may seem like a bit of a slog, and sure, the waves are more of the same, but it's critically important to a lot of surfers that they stay the course. There's a lot of surfing coming up in the next two months, the Prime series will take us to Portugal, South Africa and Huntington Beach, and in that time a few careers will be greatly enhanced, while others may have to be reevaluated.