After a few rather boring years on the ASP Dream Tour the 2010 season has been electric in terms of performance, talent and the potential for any of a number of genuine contenders to take the crown. Oh, and 20 years down the track Kelly Slater has managed to progress his surfing to levels that make his groundbreaking “In Black and White” video (1991) look positively archaic. The way Kelly continually evolves and refines his technique, equipment and skill set is testament to his greatness. Whilst surfing will never be completely mainstream Kelly deserves to be recognized as one of sport’s greatest figures ever. He is currently back where he is most comfortable – number one in the ratings after a scintillating finish at Trestles.

But what makes this year even more exciting is that Jordy Smith has found some rhythm and is producing the kind of explosive yet radical surfing we knew Durban’s pedigree contest machine was capable of. Dane Reynolds is literally throwing everything at his heats and managing to stick some of the best manoeuvres we’ve ever seen – in free and competitive surfing. The other guys still in with a chance are Mick Fanning but I think that he needs to get a bit more creative and Taj who needs to take a leaf out of Kelly’s book and stop caring so much. Or at least try to pretend as much. Bede is there as well and we know he can beat anyone on his day.

So who will win this year?

My official prediction is:

1. Jordy Smith

He takes it in a final showdown at Pipeline where he beats the king himself in a frenzied final of backdoor barrels.

2. Kelly Slater

Second but no loser, he’s even hungrier for 2011.

3. Dane Reynolds

Far and away the most high performance surfer in 2010 but consistency and risk-management wins titles. Not that Dane cares.

4. Bede Durbidge

The whitest dark horse ever will continue to lead the tour for years but no title just yet.

5. Mick Fanning

White Lightning’s heat strategy, focus and razor skills on the rail will keep him in the premium fold for as long as he is hungry.

6. Taj Burrow

With retirement looming will Teebs come out firing next year or maybe just relax and get back on the beers? I suggest beers and girls and gettung that flair back the old-fashioned way.

Kelly in orbit