Kelly Slater made it clear by winning the season-opening Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast that an 11th ASP World Tour title is his if he wants to compete in all of the next 10 events (see video of Slater versus Taj Burrow in the final).
People can say what they want about this being the year Burrow, who is looking sharp and lost to Slater in the final of the Australian event, gets his first title.
They can point out that Jordy Smith, who last year finished ranked second behind Slater and made the semifinals of the Quiksilver Pro, is poised for another title run and could overtake Slater.
All of that could happen, but Slater made it clear, by posting his 46th World Tour victory, that being 39 is no handicap and that being No. 1 just comes more easily to him than it does to others on the World Tour roster.
However, after winning a 10th world title last year, and with absolutely nothing left to prove, the big question is whether Slater will stay motivated or even stay on the tour throughout the remainder of the year. He hasn't answered that question yet, but the answer should become apparent over the next few months.
-- Pete Thomas