The surfing elite are off to Brazil for the third round of the ASP World Tour, the Billabong Rio Pro (May 8-19).

Last year’s event at Barra de Tijuca was notable for who wasn’t there – Kelly Slater withdrew because of a heel injury, and it might have been the moment that swung the 2012 season. The guy with superstar tickets hanging off him everywhere, Hawaii’s John John Florence, went on to claim his first World Tour event, beating eventual world champ Joel Parkinson in the final. Florence himself had an eventful start to 2013, withdrawing from the Quiksilver Pro and then missing Bells after an ankle injury - and putting himself next in line in pop star Taylor Swift’s revolving door of boyfriends. Can’t wait for the angry breakup song about him . . . John John won’t make it back on tour until that ankle settles down, but Kelly Slater has committed to every event in 2013 – watch out, world. He heads to Rio with a narrow lead in the points race for this year’s world title, just ahead of Mick Fanning and Taj Burrow.

Stay tuned here for regular galleries from the home of next year’s World Cup. And the 2016 Olympics. Samba on, dudes.