The 10 Surfers Who Owned 2013

Meet the surfers who stole the year of the snake.

Kelly Slater pulls into a Backdoor barrel.
© Zak Noyle

1. Kelly Slater
The nearly 42-year-old American has won two world titles and finished runner-up twice in the last four years. For any other surfer, and yeah, that includes Joel and Mick, it'd be a career-best quatrain. But Kelly has been winning world titles since 1992 when he became the youngest-ever champ at 20. When the mood strikes, Kelly is still capable of surfing above every single other surfer on tour. Think, his demolition of Fiji and beating John John Florence in his own backyard. But, then, there were times when the waves were small, maybe a little inconsistent, and he looked surprisingly vulnerable. Against Felipe Toledo in France. Against the wildcard Frederico Morais in Portugal. Disinterest? Wrong boards? It happens. Twenty years on tour and six weeks on the road in Europe will do that. Are they cracks? Maybe, but small and, for now, insignificant. It'll only be after considerable time, maybe 30 years in the future, when we reflect, when the reality drifts into legend, that we'll appreciate the remarkable feats we've witnessed.

John John Florence at Round 4 of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal, Peniche
John John Florence - Round 4 - Rip Curl Pro© ASP/ Cestari

2. John John Florence
Last year was owned by Dane Reynolds. Marinelayerproductions, his website, had become a shrine for surfers interested in performance as well as quirky sideshow. But, not so slowly, John John has risen from understudy to the very close to unanimous best-surfer-in-the-world. Wait, here's Dane now! Let's ask whom he thrills to! "Definitely John John. He’s the sickest. Just the fact that he does what he does and still surfs 20-foot waves, it's sick." What about movies? "Definitely surf movies like John John's movie, 'Done'. This is like a full-on John John fan-out! It's heavy. No one else doing that shit. I don’t know who else to talk about. I'll just watch Done over and over," Dane told photographer Morgan Maassen in Stab magazine. 

Dane, Again© Trevor Moran

3. Dane Reynolds
Even after all the weight gain from editing Craig Anderson's movie "Slow Dance", even after a slowing down of clips on his site, even after his less than sizzling efforts into competition, Dane still grips our senses. A handful of trips to Mexican righthand points and the ensuing covers as well as an arresting interview by the photographer Morgan Maassen has kept the world hot for his cake. For how long? A promised new drop on marinelayer in January will see either a tipsy old wench or a return to the battered, brazen and beautiful darting of 2012's Dane Reynolds.

A Photo We Love: Mick Fanning© Duncan Macfarlane/

4. Mick Fanning
If betting is a concern, you could've done worse than shovel all that cash at any Mick Fanning heat. In 2013, Mick was barely troubled until he reached the semi-finals. And, so, despite his foe Kelly Slater winning three events, Mick won the crown and did so in the most decisive fashion, with last-minute, perfectly ridden 12-foot bombs at Pipe. Consistency, professionalism and desire are inseperable from the rapidly becoming great, Mick Fanning.

Carlos Burle in an embrace with friends after an emotional day.
Hugs All Around

5. Carlos Burle
Rode a 100-footer, or whatever you want to call it, at a wave that was named after the birth of Christianity, can you believe -- Nazare, Portugal. Just minutes after his tow-partner, Maya Gabeira, nearly drowned, Carlos was towed into a wave that would become the most clicked-on wave this century. But how legit was it? That became a subject of equal conjecture over the ensuing weeks.

6. Maya Gabeira
It was midnight in Portugal when I tried to call Carlos Burle to tell me all about his 26-year-old tow-partner's tango with death. Maybe he'd even give me the number of Maya's hospital room, I figured. But, suddenly, just two days after being resuscitated on a beach amid giant wash-throughs that dislodged cars and threatened her existence, Maya picked up. Yeah, she couldn't sleep. She was out of the hospital, but being that close to dying isn't something you forget. And for 30 minutes she opened a door into the flimsy notion of life and death. "It took a long time in my brain to come back and for me to open my eyes but as soon as I did I kinda knew where I was because it was so salty and it was so wet. I just could tell I had just drowned," she said.

7. Shane Dorian
Retired too soon from the world tour but has since resurrected a career as the glamorous big-wave paddler. Jaws. Nazare. He does it, and does it without skis. For added ginger, he loves to kill pigs with arrows.

8. CJ Hobgood
So unfancied in the grand scheme, but 2013 was a year of spoilers. Against Kelly at Keramas, who would you pick? Against Mick at Pipe, who would you pick? Wrong and wrong. A world champ many years ago and still playing a role in the strategic warfare of the pro game.

9. Nat Young
Who would've picked a just-balding redhead waving an old-school up-and-down sabre to become the 2013 rookie of the year? 

10. Anastasia Ashley
Six million views of her pre-heat warmup.That's Kelly Slater country right there, views-wise. Did you know she can surf? That she's won the women's Pipe Pro and is a perennial favourite there? A surfer alternately despised and worshipped, though rarely appreciated for her actual talent.