fantasy surfer

Shea’s Picks for Chopes

Our World Tour pundit sets his Fantasy Surfer lineup for the Billabong Pro Tahiti

| posted on August 12, 2013
Where has Medina been this year? Shea Lopez thinks he'll be back to old form at Teahupoo. Photo: Glaser

Where has the Gabriel Medina gone this year? Shea Lopez thinks he’ll be back to old form at Teahupoo. Photo: Glaser

When simply surviving your heat becomes a victory in itself; that’s contest surfing at Teahupoo. A wave intent on beating you down and ripping you limb from limb, a wave capable of expiring your life force if you set your feet wrong. It takes incredible merit and quite the mental fortitude to face a surf break that even the world’s elite Top 34 lose sleep over. In the weeks leading up to the Billabong Pro, every blob on the swell radar could be the storm bringing “Code Red” swell to Tahiti. We know that if that happens again, the ASP will be running heats, and the Tour guys will be in the lineup rather than watching from the channel. My Fantasy Surfer team for the Billabong Pro is a collection of guys who I know are ready to battle in Tahiti.

Michel Bourez
Market Price: $7,500,000
Michel’s got momentum. He sent Slater home early from the U.S. Open in conditions that looked more like Cocoa Beach mush than Tahitian barrels, which is where he shines brightest. The Spartan can easily take the top spot during the Billabong Pro at Teahupoo, a location he already holds the top spot at day-to-day.

Gabriel Medina
Market Price: $7,500,000
What happened to our Brazilian boy wonder? I have my assumptions, though they aren’t anything revolutionary on the subject; a sophomore slump, some nagging injuries, the constant entourage, thinking too far ahead, being ridiculously young, etc. Whatever it is, we all know Medina can win. It’s just a matter of time before he remembers he can win as well.

Damien Hobgood
Market Price: $4,750,000
So you think you are good? But are you Hob-good? Year after year, the heat statistics for winning percentages in the South Pacific for these two hobbits raised in the estuaries of the Indian River Lagoon system prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that tricks are for kids and real men go deep. It’s going to be a long time before any kid coming through the ranks has any sort of advantage on these two in heavy surf. Wouldn’t be the least surprised to see one of the twins winning here. Damien costs half as much on Fantasy Surfer, so I went with him.

Ace Buchan
Market Price: $6,500,000
Proven, consistent, intelligent, friendly, and fiery. Yes, fiery. Ace makes things happen, bending and shaping heats, waves, and opponents to meet his will. Ace is rarely wrong, and lets the judges know it when he knows they’ve missed the mark. He’s had a solid year so far, and I expect him to peak in Teahupoo as a goofyfoot. Tahiti may just be the place where Ace finds first place. Pardon the rhyme.

Market Price: $5,750,000
Watching Seabass surf heats is an exercise in patience. As his momentum seems to flop from high to low from one minute to the next, his talent level is on par with anyone on Tour. Given enough opportunity, Seabass’ surfing will be brilliance that only a few can hold a candle to. His confidence is what he needs to bring to Teahupoo, it’s the key to many victories coming his way.

Jordy Smith
Market Price: $9,000,000
Past performances begone, if Jordy still intends to take a 2013 World Title back to South Africa he’ll need a solid result here at Teahupoo. I believe Jordy may slide in under the radar for this event, and then methodically crush people en route to making a bold statement about his plans for the rest of the year.

John John Florence
Market Price: $8,500,000
If you don’t ride two of the best waves of your life in your heat against John John, there’s a very little chance you’ll beat him at Teahupoo. Looking at his average heat scores (particularly when you omit heats held in poor conditions) it becomes clear that only rides worth eight points or more will factor into avoiding a combo situation versus JJF.

Owen Wright (Editor’s Note: Owen Wright withdrew this morning.)
Market Price: $3,250,000
$3.25 Million for arguably the best young surfer from Australia is a bargain too good to pass up. Whether his back and mind have returned to the land of lofty expectations we all held for this gentle giant is yet to be seen. What is known, however, is we all wish him a quick return to top form and the top of the ratings. A win in Tahiti would be a comeback scenario that can’t be overlooked.


Alain Riou
Market Price: $1,500,000
At Teahupoo, Alain is able to be in the spot he needs to be at the time he needs to be there. He’s familiar with the wave, and that’s why he’s my underdog favorite to win against many of the high-profile competitors he’ll face in this year’s event.

Pick your team now at

  • Eric Wakeling

    Hey Shea – you can’t use Freddy P as an alternate. Only the 3 million level. So now that you can’t use Owen at 3.25, what does that change? Raoni?

  • matt obrien

    what no Ke11y? Or Nat? I would also think that Kolohe or Pupo would be a steal and both have something to prove. Just curious.

    • Danny

      Agree! Because of injury and the new young kids on the block Pupo has been very under the radar. And Kolohe way always too much on the radar and after the inevitable backlash has really been improving. So yeah, I really wanna see these guys, and honestly I hope they do good. They are better then people give credit, and very good kids

      • Bob

        I think Travis Logie will be the one to watch !

  • Marty McFly

    After the horrific performance at the Volcom “Gucci” Pro presented by Ralph Lauren, I would think that Kelly “Syrian brotherhoood” Slater has to prove himself in order to gain the respect of the surfer industry. The questions remains to be answered regarding whether Slater is able to handle larger surf? Sure Slater can throw a few turns at 3 foot high lowers, but can he barrel ride in waves of consequence, like Tahiti or Brazil. Fellow mate Rob “I’m too cool for everyone” Machado recently told ESPN that Slater confided to him that he is losing his hair thinking about hitting the reef at Cloudbreak and has all together considered packing his stick and going after an acting career. Slater can either man up in Tahiti and charge a few bombs to prove himself that he is more than a 1-trick pony, or go home to Hawaii with his tail between his legs.

    • D


    • matt obrien

      I take it this was meant to be read with my tongue in my cheek? sure hope so.

    • Luke Stafford

      Haven’t you seen the videos of Kelly surfing shipsterns or Praia do Norta with Joel Parkinson? That’s is charging right there!

      • Marty Mcfly!!!

        man you guys are gullible….haha. I love Slater, was just writing in an alternative universe….

    • OB

      You’re an idiot, you’re kids will be idiots because of your DNA.

  • Ben

    The Spartan has an abysmal record at Teahupo’o. I know he rips the place, but it doesn’t come together for him in contests (he’s still one of my favorite surfers, though).

  • Baretoes

    The forecast doesn’t look good for the waiting period, so many heats will be won on turns, airs or small barrels, giving the goofyfoots an edge like Pupo and Medina. I’d probably pick Pupo over Hobgood given the small waves likely. I’d throw Kelly off my team too if he wasn’t Kelly because at this stage of his career he’s not really inspired by small Chopes.

  • Mik

    “It’s going to be a long time before any kid coming through the ranks has any sort of advantage on these two in heavy surf.”… except for John John Florence, Julian Wilson, Owen Wright, and Nat Young? While there is no doubt that the Hobgoods charge, these new-comers entered the Tour with skills that neither CJ or Damo have to this day… So yeah, it’s cool to have a Floridian bias, especially when Kelly and Corey are part of that upper eschelon pack that youbelong to… But still. These guys are not going to lose any sleep if they face the Goods in any heat, anywhere.

    BTW: “marty mc-fly”: you win the clueless comment of the year. Slater doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone on Tour, much less to someone as bigoted as you. There’s nothing wrong with having Syrian roots. It’s fascist governments that are the problem, not people, per se. I’d happily be called Syrian if I could surf like Kelly Slater.

    BTW2: if Teahupo’o is code red, I’d personally be very wary of holding a WCT contest. There is a thin line between LIfe and Death at that size, and I’m not certain a professional surf contest is intended to be that. In other words, I wouldn’t do it just because as few bloggers wanted to see it, when those same people wouldn’t have anything to do with a wave like that themselves. If it isn’t paddle-able, then it may not be contestable. Expression session??? Sure. Have at it, whomever wants it. I don’t measure a WCT surfer by size of wave… I measure by performance and power and technique. I admire the Greg Longs of the surf world, but I watch the WCT for other reasons.

    • marty mc

      You win the most gullible reader of the year award – Marty Mcfly.

  • enstoklos

    Mark my words: I think Nathan Hedge is going to turn a lot of heads!