A nation on the ascent, a big wave that’s all smoke and mirrors and the not-so-slow death of mags.

1. Print surf mags started to sputter and die
It ain't a secret that paper magazines, of all stripes, are on their deathbeds. It's only the leap of faith taken by advertisers that keeps 'em open. Seriously, who's going to pay 10 gees for a double-page ad in a few years when you can operate a stand-alone website for the same price? Anyway, this year it was Australia's Waves magazine that closed after almost 40 years. Last year, it was TransWorld SURF. Next year? The print versions of Tracks? Stab? What Youth? Time and the internet will tell.

2. Brazil won both tiers of the men's competition
The heat was all on Gabriel Medina in December when he won the 2014 World Tour. But just over his shoulder was Filipe Toledo, strolling into the number one position on the qualifying series. The two biggest competitive titles in surfing, both won by Brazilians, signals something very new, something very exciting.

3. Kelly Slater started to look vulnerable
On paper, Kelly was still a contender coming into Pipe. But a no-win season and his worst tour result in half a decade showed a rare vulnerability. Whether it's age, finally, or disinterest in competition in anything under six-foot, will become clear in February. Will he show? Or is the show over?

4. Fun (of the 21-and-over variety) was banned from the commentary booth
Surf Europe's Paul Evans and BeachGrit's Chas Smith delivered the most wonderful and entertaining commentator fare at a women's event in France, the great one-armed surfer Bethany Hamilton even tweeting her approval. A win-win? Not even close. The pair were promptly banned from ever holding a microphone near an ASP event ever again after it was revealed they were lubed by boxes of boutique French beer.

5. Filipe Toledo redefined airs in competition
Teenager nails biggest backside air of the year, in a heat, follows it up with a smaller version a little further down the line and falls a point short of a perfect score. That an 18-year-old on his second year on a tour that includes John John and Gabriel can become the benchmark for aerials is a warning of his influence to come.

6. Portugal became a (dubious) big-wave epicentre
Nazaré is the most photogenic big wave in the world, a monstrous shorebreak with the most picturesque foregrounds. Its flaw, however, is it doesn't actually break until it hits the sand, making for remarkable photos but underwhelming video. And therefore...

7. The real money is still on Jaws
Peahi or Jaws, on Maui, is the New York City of surf breaks. Make it here and you can make it anywhere. It's where big-wave tow surfing was born. And, in an era that's been marked by jet-ski assist, it has also become ground zero for...

8. The rebirth of paddle surfing
When it became apparent to everyone except some mid-west couch jockey that tow-in surfing had all the difficulty of green-run snowboarding, big-wave surfers started to order 10'6"s again. Take away the drama of having to turn around and paddle into a 30-foot wave and what does it leave you, after all?

9. John John took over the Surfer Poll award
Over the last 21 years, Kelly Slater has won Surfer magazine's most popular surfer award 19 times, beaten only once previous and by the late Andy Irons. This year, John John Florence took it off Kelly for the first time in a decade. A shift in the game? Likely.

10. The hybrid-hybrid surfboard
The Australian shaper Hayden Cox introduced a surfboard called the Hypto Krypto that was neither pure performance nor pure fish. A hybrid of a hybrid. And it worked so well for the simple reason that most of us can't handle much of a rocker nor the complexities of a concave bottom.