fantasy surfer

Portugal Preview

Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy Surfer team

| posted on October 08, 2013
Pat Gudauskas in the belly of the beast at last year's Rip Curl Pro. Photo: Ellis

Pat Gudauskas in the belly of the beast at last year’s Rip Curl Pro. Photo: Ellis

After Hossegor, I’m having a hard time believing my own eyes. I watched judges reward the kind of conservative surfing that won heats over a decade ago, while more progressive surfing took a backseat. Even the surfers known for constantly pushing what is possible on a wave were pumping the brakes and surfing beneath themselves to cater to the judges’ preferences—which have clearly favored tour veterans.

This takes me back to 1999. The world as we knew it was coming to an end and surfing was going above the lip routinely. Surfers like Shane and Gavin Beschen, Andy and Bruce Irons, Kalani Robb, Cory Lopez, and Chris Ward all carved, flowed, and boosted with ease. Some chose to continue along that line, pushing forward by increasing height, rotation, and variation based off the model that those surfing icons had established. Medina surfed in such a manner last week. He surfed well enough, in fact, to deserve a win in 2013. Fanning surfed well enough to deserve a win in 1999. Both performances were exceptional, but this is 2013, and the judging should reflect that.

For a change to occur, a new way of thinking and acting is required. Some surfers will benefit, and others will suffer from this change, but that is just something that professional surfing will need to come to terms with. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Never apologize for being correct, or being years ahead of your time…the truth is still the truth.”

For Portugal, I see nothing worth mentioning in the way of swell for Supertubes. The beachbreak nearby should be decent, at times, and the Brazilians on Tour know a thing or two about surfing beachbreaks. That is why I have three Brazilians on my team—four if I decide to switch John John Florence out for Adriano de Souza.

Taj Burrow
Market Price: $10,250,000
Taj has fallen victim to inconsistency over the years: Red hot at one event, barely a factor at the next. That tells me he was never cut out to be a World Champion, as holding onto the number one spot through 10 months of competition requires a discipline very few can muster. The skill has always been there, but the mental aspect is what has kept him from being Mick Fanning.

Julian Wilson
Market Price: $9,500,000
Julian continues pushing relentlessly toward his goals. This pursuit has seen him improve tremendously in recent years. Now standing on even ground with the elite, Julian pushes everyone to perform above and beyond their normal limits when faced with the daunting task of surfing against him.

Jordy Smith
Market Price: $9,000,000
He seems to have found a rhythm and routine that suits him well in competition. We all have a mental state that allows us to excel. Some find it when the pressure is on, others when they feel most calm. Jordy has found it through newfound happiness and stability in his personal life.

John John Florence
Market Price: $8,500,000
John has a lot of questions floating around in his head, and for good reason. With an 8.1 for two snaps and a safety bounce off the closeout in a win against Wilko, versus a 6.9 for a snap followed by a tail blow reverse and a tweaked close out bash in a loss against Fanning, the message from the judges is unclear. They have essentially shown John that his best chance of winning is to surf conservatively. That won’t sit well with him.

Gabriel Medina
Market Price: $7,250,000
Medina won Hossegor in the minds of every surfer that has ever attempted an air…his competitors in Portugal shall feel his wrath.

Filipe Toledo
Market Price: $5,250,000
Filipe has jumped (literally) to the forefront of progressive surfing. When you surf a heat where everything you attempt, and pull off, is far beyond that of anything your competitor has managed in a lifetime of attempts, you are the better surfer. Filipe dropkicks everyone in the teeth when it comes to risk and degree of difficulty while surfing a heat. From the shadows, young Filipe has now emerged as a serious world title threat in years to come.

Alejo Muniz
Market Price: $3,750,000
His recent performances hint at a quantum leap he may achieve in his surfing soon. With a major shakeup in the hierarchy approaching, Alejo is rising star on the global surf scene with a great variety of skills that should allow him to excel from Huntington Beach to Portugal and beyond.

Pat Gudauskas
Market Price: $1,500,000
Pat recently won a WQS in Virginia, and with the best young talent competing there, the victory was testament to his ability to compete in the small stuff. Nobody should doubt his ability to perform similarly in Portugal, an event he has had success at before.

The Rip Curl Pro gets underway October 9. Click here to ready your Fantasy Surfer Team.

  • S.A.C.

    Thank you for being so honest about the judging. It has been really disappointing over the past two events.

    The problem is not only that the wrong surfer will win a heat (or contest), but the actual damage done to progression. If judges reward mediocre turns, there is simply no reason for surfers to push the envelope. Why take a chance on a technical air or crazy turn when three-to-the-beach gets it done? I know the judges work hard and love surfing, but if they don’t evolve, surfing (at least competitive surfing) can’t move forward.

    • surf it all

      I disagree, the judging has been good if you consider that ‘utilizing’ sections is their criteria. Fanning put his heart and soul into utilizing every drop of the wave, slamming every single section. Medina wasted many good sections in order to gain enough speed to boost one air. Now, let me just say that Medina’s airs are spectacular, but does that justify wasting most of the wave to do one spectacular move?

  • Ztrois

    I loved the comparasion the style of surfing in the Quik Pro – Fanning 1999 and Medina 2013. To solve the problem of the judging criteria, the ASP needs young judges and head judges, because the current ASP judges bring in their memories only the difficulty of the old tricks they did or do in their longboarders …

    • Tellinit Howitis

      Some of the Judges on tour are great! But if you get an egotistical Head Judge that overrules them, and tells them to rise or drop their scores in line, then you get poor decisions being made as we had in Hossegor.
      What about Parko and Marc??!! I love Parko, but even he knows there is no way he won that heat. Costly stuff up at Marc’s expense.

  • Squijibo

    Good to hear someone genuinely calling it like it is. The rest of the surf media has been very quiet on the judging issue, occasionally hinting that it is just online haters, when in fact the credibility of pro surfing hangs in the balance.

  • dontneednochokebrain

    Shea–another well written article. I’ve been following professional surfing since 1989, and watching the heat recap between Fanning and Medina is a joke. The problem is that it will probably cost Kelly a title, as he, much more than Fanning, is able to mold old school flow and power (like Fanning) with new-school rotations (unlike Fanning). It reminds me of your brother Cory, who was above the lip so much that other competitors told him to tone it down or the judges would not reward him. Seems much has not changed. I think Julian is going to continue his climb next year. He surfs sick.

  • BD

    I would love to have this fantasy lineup, yet considering the salary cap is set at $50 M and the lineup discussed by Shea Lopez above is set at $55M that just won’t be possible. Soooo are Surfer Mag employees given a higher salary cap or is this just a completely unrealistic Fantasy Surf assessment? Considering $5M is the difference between having 17 yr old grom wildcard Jacob Wilcox on your team as oppose to lets say Jeremy Flores, Ace, Filipe or Seabass.

    • mateo

      It depends whether you got a particular surfer on your team early in the season – before their price went up….

    • X

      If you are holding players that have increased in value the team is possible.

  • mateo

    I’ll have to watch the heat again – but I don’t agree that whoever does the biggest air in a heat should necessarily win. Good arcs and fluidity are still important. I find it blah when Gabriel starts looking for the ramp every wave. Surfing shouldn’t be just about tricksy-ness – a wave should be ridden like a well choreographed dance, incorporating air time into that performance. Gabriel can carve and do what I’m describing – and judges should continue to push him in that direction – I think Felipe actually understands and executes that ideal more compellingly at the moment. I’m looking forward to Miguel Pupo getting back in sync competitively. Toledo and Pupo may or may not get caught in Medina’s superstar shadow – but they will push him towards becoming a more complete surfer in competition. Dane has shown fans that this kind of complete performance is possible. He may have been rewarded with huge scores for massive single maneuvers sometimes, as has Kelly, but they are earned, in part, because they don’t spend heat after heat numbing our minds with a relentless search for the magic ramp. In my book, it’s okay to reward beautiful, seamless rides that feature speed arcs and ferocious, fin-high blowtails instead of 360-air-agains. Is that what happened between Fanning and Medina?

    • phil hart

      I agree totally,you cant surf the whole wave setting up for the air

    • Rattone

      not at all. I am all for rail work 100% and honestly am not a huge fan of Medina. Watch the final again, especially Micks last wave that was scored an 8.83. He did a speed float, mistimed half turn, then pushed the fins out on a small soupy closeout section, there was no “speed arcs” or “ferocious fin blows” as you say. Slice it any way you like that wave WAS NOT even an 8 noneless an 8.83. Medina was robbed by shitty, poor judging in a final for the second time in a year. (we all remember Portugal final last year when they gave it to Julian by blatantly overscoring his last ride)

  • Adam

    Wow! I am amazed that some one in the surf industry has actually called that final as it was. Nick Carroll managed to watch it without any adverse comment. I’m glad to see Surfer aren’t completely dominated by the surf industry advertising juggernaut. If they scored Wilson, Medina and Toledo in a meaningful manner then the top five will rapidly look very different…

    • SharkBoy

      Nick Carrol openly expressed his disbelief in the Parko Lacomare heat

      • Vector

        Too bad it stopped there!

      • Rattone

        which is a tougher call in my book. I want to say Marc won that heat but if you really watch Parko’s last wave, unhindered by Marc blasting the top of his wave in the foreground, you see that Parko did kinda lay it down on that thing? Last turn maybe makes score questionable but it was definitely a much better ride than Fannings overscored claim wave and don’tneednochoke is right. That shitty call has just placed the world title in Micks lap and that damages the credibility of the ASP altogether. Shame on Renato and the judges, they have flailed all year

  • matt obrien

    Yeah Shea – thanks for calling like it is. finally somebody mentions what we fans knew to be true. Whatever, go Ke11y. Bring it home!

  • Mik

    Great clear-headed column Shea, especially your blunt comments on the judging. Tempered with clarity instead of just calling them on their old-school Aussie bias, which is why Nick didn’t say the obvious. (I respect Nick, and love his writing, but he too is Aussie first, reality second).

    More than anything, the Ghandi quote is rad. Something to live by… Many thanks.

  • Hoyt

    if anyone thinks that Brazos are taking over the surf world like I do then don’t put them on your surf team #brazosdontsharewaves

  • SharkBoy

    Props for telling it like it is with the judging. The final was weird, but the Parko Lacomare heat was just about the oddest thing I’d ever seen, made me even question why I should bother playing fantasy if it’s just roulette with the judges

    • Tellinit Howitis

      Agreed. And Shared.

  • Tony Roberts

    SPOT ON as always SL, THNAKS and keep doing what you do bud.

  • Sparrow

    Style is everything.surfing should be aesthetically pleasing always.the huge airs,though amazing don’t always look good especially when they are preceded by a bunch of wasted check turns.its great to push surfing forward but the fundamentals mustn’t be lost in progression.medina is great for the spectator unfamiliar with these fundamentals.i think Toledo is more the full package after watching France, huge airs,lighting fast gouges,and better style than the rest of his countrymen.

  • PD

    ASP is becoming a soap opera.
    Don’t be surprise the Judges “see” Kelly winning this next event in Portugal, so that world title is defined in Hawaii, that way the ASP has more intrigue and more people will be watching at it, about who will finally be the winner.
    Is all about money folks.

  • squiddler

    uh shea – thats 55 mil…

  • scam

    Great article Shea! But lets be honest! This whole contest thing is theater. If mick, parko, slater don’t win or arent in the hunt in the last three events there’s less drama, less media thus less value to the ASP. Those 3 are the most recognizable surfing figures in their respective countries which equals dollars, keeps the “big 3″ coming back to sponsor events every year & which allows the ASP to keep printing paychecks. Unfortunately it also creates an unfair playing field for the rest of the tour surfers. If you speak out, your out-ask b-mart & beschen. Ultimately, the ones who get hurt the most are the fans because many of us don’t realize there is a plan in place prior to the horn. Hopefully the new ownership group next year will make it a level playing field, and at the same time, level ALL of the judging body so we can see an unscripted ending to each event. May the best man win!

  • Tellinit Howitis

    Richie Porta Head Judge? Get rid of him already.

  • benny

    The ASP world tour is not an air-show. It’s about the complete ride. Nobody on tour can ride a wave from start to finish like Slater, Fanning and Parko. Style, speed, flow and risk; whether it’s 1999 or 2013, the basics of good surfing are the same.

  • Dirt

    @ Shea, What is this Gandhi crap. Not everyone wants to watch Gabs bounce and bog his way past good sections to do the same 360 rev over and over. If you want the truth I’ll give it to you.
    Mick looks good with his board in the water, though awkward in the air.
    Gabs looks good in the air, but if you took his air game away, he would not be on tour.
    You prefer Gabs because he’s a man after your own heart, good airs but not so good turns.
    It’s a surfing contest not an air contest.

    • Ben

      Gabriel Medina finished runner up in thumping cloudbreak (as well as Flick has ever done there) without a single air. Still so sure he wouldn’t be on tour?

    • Todd LeVasseur

      http://quiksilverlive.com/profrance/2013/#quality=med&round=1097&heat=1111
      Here’s the heat recap. Watch Gabriel’s first scored wave: sick rail carve, as good as any Mick did, to big air rotation, with one pump, to nose pick. 3 different moves with minimal waste of sections, outside of one set-up pump. This scores a 6.5 range. Seriously??? Gabriel’s two waves are better ridden than Mick’s. This is obvious now, and will be in two years. For transparency: I don’t like Gabriel, and I have really come to appreciate Mick. But it’s obvious who won this, and I’ll take the truth from an experience pro any day of the week, which is precisely why I read this from Shea.

  • sam

    Go watch an air show dickh*ad. I don’t want to see young guys flapping along every wave waiting for a section to punt. Compared to Parko you had zero style. Surfing will always be about style.

  • Max

    Hey Shea – awesome you are telling it like it is with the judging. It takes balls – but be assured you have the surfing community with you. Can’t the judges give a high rating for a repertoire with 1 huge snap or carve mixed in with a tail-slide and air variations and a barrel ride. You can’t replace the snap or carve but linked together in 1 ride with a barrel and a big ally-oop or backflip – all the fans get to see the best high performance surfing. John-John and Julian and Felipe are putting their air and slide moves together well with power carves and should be more rewarded. I am also a fan of Mick’s, but as one of the fastest surfers in the world I want to see him launching more often at speed as the rest of his game is really solid. Everyone can win with a good direction.

  • Jamii Hamlin

    Since Trestles, there appears to be a focus on wave quality with a slight emphasis upon better wave choice. Wave choice is the subtle aspect of surfing that is often overlooked as going to the air’s etc can eliminate the need for flow and the continuity of consecutive scoring moves together which need a better wave and distance to achieve.

    Mick did this well in France, every turn he did linked and was explosive as possible…..Medina to me passed up a lot of sections in searching forgetting above the lip, only to kick out without boasting or adding additional score!

    What I feel is more worrying is the protective scoring of elite surfers vs wildcard, Parkos heat against Marc Lacomare, and Jordy last year as examples. I love Joels surfing, but often he lacks the additional risk or flare a rival is giving…..and still he cracks the advantage.

    Portugal, from watching the wild card trial is all about the tube…..and turns seem to be under scored, so it will be interesting to see how above the lip surfing will be scored!

  • Anthony Arnold

    No doubt Gabe is so gifted in the air that he can turn his craft into a snowboard with straps. But his gimmick is sooooooo telegraphed every wave! Zero unpredictability! Pump, pump, pump, full frontside rotation…again. To a lesser extreme than Jadson Andre, he’s becoming a bit of a one trick pony in my opinion. I don’t know where the judging is at, but if a surfer somehow made two waves look exactly the same in his heat I don’t think they both should be keepers.

  • Ludo

    I disagree, mick deserved to win, I feel he surfed with power, flow and mixed his moves pretty well, if that’s so easy what doesn’t medina do do it too?!?

  • Djeks

    The ASP has lost all credibility after France. The judges are a freaking joke. I’ve lost interest.

  • Ben

    Preach Shea! This is dead on, though I’d argue the state of surfing in that last context was almost 1991 rather than 1999, back when Damien Hardman was winning for three-to-the beach. Sadly little has changed.

  • brewwavedave

    I have to agree with most of what was said. But the asp is a business, and for the sake of not alienating fans, judging must evolve with consideration. Look at this way, it wasn’t that long ago that air wasn’t even a part of asp judging. The fact that madina and toledo made to the podium says that change is occurring.

    The fact that fanning had brown underwear speaks volumes. And the fact that kelly has an air game, shows that old dogs can still compete. If mick, parko, and taj are going to have a chance in the coming years, they will have to step it up. The stakes are higher than ever, and judges are noticing how high the air game has gone.

  • nick pearson

    shea- strange how you picked taj and then totally ripped on him in the explanation section. why wouldn’t you just explain why you picked him for portugal- obviously you must favor his strengths over his weaknesses in this event. Taj is still sick and has always been more progressive than Mick and Joel combined. Given your opening paragraph and the fact that Taj obviously fits the criteria of the future better than most veterans, it’s kind of weird that you ended up basically dissing him anyway after picking him as the anchor of your team.